Integrating UDL into Your Course

UDL focuses on designing for everyone to create an inclusive learning environment in which all learners can succeed.

Integrating UDL into your course works best when you implement it from the start. Building UDL into your content, activities, and assessments, instead of trying to retrofit it after the fact, is the best way to take all learners’ needs and abilities into consideration.

So how do you do it?

There isn’t a single, step-by-step guide for integrating UDL practices in an individual piece of content, activity, or assessment. Instead, UDL is an inclusive framework that provides access to, develops, and empowers all students to become expert learners. This includes purposefully building and delivering a course that fosters expert learners from as wide a variety of students as possible. The framework considers providing opportunity for all students in any context, including but not limited to those with documented accommodations, no matter the discipline nor platform.

Identify areas of your course that may present barriers to student success

In designing or reflecting on a course and its facilitation, are there areas where some learners might struggle or not have an equal opportunity to effectively demonstrate their knowledge? Are there specific lessons, assessments, or activities that could be enhanced or modified to address these barriers to student success?

Note three or four of these areas in which you could reach more learners

Select one or more areas of your course to integrate UDL

From your list of areas in which you could reach more learners by alleviating barriers, select at least one that you will improve by embracing UDL.

Consider an area where you could make the most impact. Addressing this area first will likely show a measurable, positive effect on the success of all students as well as motivate you to continue your implementation of UDL.

Additionally, think about what resources and time you have available and if your plan is feasible.

Develop UDL solution(s)

Getting Started

After you have identified area(s) of your course where you might integrate UDL, you can now begin to develop one or more UDL solutions to address the area(s) in order to make it more inclusive.

Now is when you may feel challenged. This will likely be the most difficult part of the framework, as there is not necessarily one right answer. To assist in getting started, the Hopkins Universal Design for Learning (HUDL) Initiative has identified four areas that might align with common areas that have the most impact for your learners:

  • Creating learning objectives that are aligned to assessments
  • Creating diverse assessment strategies including both formative and summative assessments
  • Representing content in a variety of formats
  • Incorporating active learning into learning experiences

Selecting one of these areas and then thinking about how you might be able to create a related UDL solution for your area may help you with getting started.


When developing your solution, think about the subject, your learner… and you!

Remember that the content and academic rigor should not suffer, and that if certain information or activities/assessments need to be completed to demonstrate competency, you should not necessarily change or eliminate them.

Instead, you should think about the core knowledge or concept that needs to be relayed or demonstrated and then look at how you may be able to offer variety and options to your students in terms of engagement, representation, and/or action and expression (e.g., the three main UDL principles).

(See Example Below)

As you develop your solution, make sure you are offering enough options/ variety to create an inclusive environment for your learners. Additionally, consider the time, resources, and potential costs involved in implementation; if you find yourself overwhelmed, perhaps some adjustments can be made or the ideas can be saved for a future term.

Example –
“Maintaining Content and Rigor While Offering Variety and Options”

If you are teaching a public relations course and students must demonstrate that they can write a press release (and students often struggle with this), you probably do not want to offer them the option to choose another format for this assessment (e.g., podcast or presentation) since the objective is to write a press release. Instead, you may want to try to offer options for learning how to write a press release, such as a recorded presentation with captions and transcript, example press release, a textbook chapter on the subject, and/or one or more web articles or resources. You might also create a formative assessment before the final summative assessment in which learners have to locate three press releases and compare and contrast them, explaining positive and negative aspects of each. This allows you to potentially reach more learners and provide options for learning about press releases and their structure without actually changing the format of the assessment itself. This implementation of UDL is an example of creating diverse assessment strategies, one of the HUDL areas of focus.

Implement/deliver your course

When the time arrives, implement your solutions as you deliver your course to your students.

Pay close attention to determine how your newly developed solution is working, and the effects it is having on your students, the course as a whole, and you

Reflect and evaluate

After you have delivered the lesson and/or the whole course, take time to reflect and evaluate how the solution affected the students, the learning environment, and you.

Think about:

  • What went well? What didn’t?
  • How did students respond to your efforts implementing UDL? Were they receptive or resistant to the changes you made?
  • Did student engagement, performance, and/or persistence increase after you embraced UDL in the activity or resource(s)? Do you believe UDL helped foster your students’ success?
  • How do you feel about the process embracing the UDL framework? Were your efforts at integrating UDL worth the reward?
  • How might you further modify the selected activity or resource with UDL? How might you apply your methods to another area in your course?

Midterm and final course surveys and evaluations can be used in your reflection. When available, compare overall performance and satisfaction data from “before UDL” to “after UDL”. If there are open-ended questions, read through student comments to find evidence related to your UDL integration. If you have the opportunity to edit the survey/evaluation, consider asking a question directly related to your UDL solutions.

Review your reflections and evaluation data/information to determine if your new UDL solution(s) are good to go for continued use or if they need adjustments.

Don’t be afraid to make modifications. Remember, UDL is a journey and it may take some time to refine your solution(s) and get them just right for your students, your course, and you!

After reflecting and evaluating, you can begin the integration framework again, using your reflections and evaluation data to inform your plan to proceed with future UDL integration in your course(s).

The most successful integration of UDL practices usually occurs at the start of the design process and often also occurs over longer periods of time. It may take multiple terms to get your course to the level you would like, and you may even modify UDL practices that you integrated previously. UDL is a journey that is continuous over the life of your course, so take it one step at a time!

5 Steps to implement UDL Changes

One Step at a Time

When you have the opportunity to build a new course, it’s important to consider UDL throughout the curriculum and design decisions to avoid retrofitting and rework. However, if you are working with an existing course, it’s important to keep motivated and take small steps in applying UDL principles. Do not try to overhaul or entirely redesign a course that’s already been developed. Instead, consider individual areas that might benefit from UDL.

Pick one activity, assessment, or class session and put one or more of the practices to work. Learn what works for your students, and for you, and then continue to build UDL into more areas of your course and/or other courses over time.

Think of integrating UDL practices in the fashion of “plus one.” If you integrate one UDL practice this term, it’s one more than you had last time. And if you keep adding one each term, eventually you will have built a thriving, inclusive learning environment that fosters expert learners.

Resources & Examples