Designing for difference: lessons from a cross-disciplinary implementation of Universal Design for Learning




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University of Utah



Peer reviewed



Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a pedagogical framework that seeks to provide students with flexible ways of learning, flexiblestudyresources,andflexiblewaysoftestinglearning. Just as Universal Design (UD) provides for difference of physical ability amongst users, UDL provides for difference of learning styles amongst students. Like UD, UDL assumes that learner difference, not commonality, is the norm. 1 De Montfort University (DMU) is a public teaching and research university located in the city of Leicester in the East Midlands of England. In 2016, DMU adopted UDL as part of a university- wide program to offset the consequences of changes to central government support for students with disabilities. Alongside a significant investment in lecture capture and replay technology, DMU’s adoption of the principles of UDL has challenged faculty members teaching at all levels and in all disciplines to re- appraise the accessibility and inclusivity of their teaching. This paper discusses research-in-progress from a cross-discipline survey of the implementation of the principles of UDL at DMU.* The project examines the perceptions and feelings of freshman students from a range of different backgrounds and in a range of subjects about the impact of UDL on their experience of higher education. When complete, the project will evaluate how the implementation of the principles and ideas of UDL are interpreted and applied by students, alongside their recom- mendations for the academic practice of staff.


Funded by the Teaching Innovation Project (2016/17) 'Towards Equitable Engagement: the Impact of UDL on Student Perceptions of Learning'


higher education, universal design for learning, universal design


Brown, J, B., Hall, R., Lishman, R., Rushworth, J. and; Snape, R. (2017) Designing for difference: lessons from a cross-disciplinary implementation of Universal Design for Learning. In: E Carraher (ed), NCBDS 33: Begin with why: ethics and values in beginning design, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, pp. 56-62


Research Institute

Institute of Energy and Sustainable Development (IESD)
Institute for Allied Health Sciences Research
Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA)