Module 9. Universal Design for Learning

This module provides an introduction to the topic of Universal Design for Learning and accessibility, giving participants a framework for understanding how to address fundamental needs of all learners.

This module addresses the following standards:

  • The online teacher is familiar with legal mandates stipulated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the Assistive Technology Act and Section 508 requirements for accessibility. OTE.3.D.1
  • The online teacher knows how adaptive/assistive technologies are used to help people who have disabilities gain access to information that might otherwise be inaccessible. OTE.3.P.1


Watch the following video on Universal Design for Learning (UDL), and consider:

  • What opportunities does technology give us for teaching all students?
  • What problems might arise as a result of using technology in education for students with disabilities?
  • Are students with recognized disabilities the only ones who benefit from UDL?


Read the following legislation section regarding students with disabilities, and consider:

  • How does teaching online impact students with disabilities (positively or negatively)?
  • How can technology be used to support students with disabilities (e.g., hearing disability, visual disability)?

U.S. Department of Justice. (2009). Individuals with disabilities education act (IDEA). A Guide to Disabilities Rights Laws.

Center for Parent Information and Resources. (2009). Assistive technology act (AT). Center for Parent Information and Resources.

Access the free web edition of the following book by going to the url and creating a free account:

Meyer, A., Rose, D., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and practice. CAST Professional Publishing. (Free Web Edition)

Web Edition

Once you have access to the web edition, read the following sections:

  • Chapter 1, introduction only
  • Chapter 4, all

As you read, consider the following:

  • What is universal design for learning and how is it enacted in online learning environments?
  • How can UDL improve learning for all students (not just those with recognized disabilities)?


Try using the Wave AIM tool to test the accessibility of some of your favorite educational websites. As you do so, consider:

  • What accessibility errors are you finding on websites, and why do they matter (or not)?
  • Do you think these errors are easily fixed, why or why not?

Wave AIM

Questions for Discussion and Reflection

  • How do accessibility and UDL apply even if you have no students in your classroom with recognized disabilities?
  • What aspects of this course reflect UDL and accessibility, and what aspects could be improved?