Accessibility and Universal Design for Learning

This section will cover principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and provide resources for further training in accessibility.

What is UDL and why implement it?

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a principle of curriculum design that provides all students with equal opportunities to learn regardless of ability, disability, age, gender, and cultural or linguistic background. Implementing UDL principles makes learning better for everyone, in much the same way that sidewalk curb cuts don’t just help those in wheelchairs, but also parents with strollers, skateboarders and roller-skaters, small children and delivery staff with wheeled carts.

UDL is based on three primary principles:

  • Multiple means of representation (the “what” of learning)
  • Multiple means of student action and expression (the “how” of learning)
  • Multiple means of student engagement (the “why” of learning)

For more detailed information on the primary principles of UDL visit CAST’s UDL Guidelines Website.

According to CUNY’s Accessibility training, UDL practices of instruction include:

  • A syllabus statement inviting students to meet with the instructor to discuss learning needs
  • Multiple delivery and assessing methods that motivate and engage all learners
  • Examples that appeal to students with a variety of characteristics with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, age, ability, disability, and interest
  • Regular, accessible, and effective interactions between students and the instructor
  • Allowing students to turn in parts of a large project for feedback before the final project is due
  • Awareness of processes and resources for disability-related accommodations


Accessibility means ensuring our course documents and activities are accessible to all students. This includes but is not limited to:

  • Ensuring PDFs and Word Documents are screen reader friendly
  • Ensuring websites are screen reader friendly and work across multiple platforms
  • Ensuring PowerPoints are screen reader friendly and readable to students with vision impairments
  • Ensuring videos are closed-captioned
  • Ensuring important information is not relayed to students using only color-coding

CUNY instructors have the opportunity to complete a self-paced, online course on accessibility in Blackboard that was created by CUNY faculty for CUNY faculty. The course covers how to make online courses and materials accessible to all students. To enroll in the course, select the Blackboard Accessibility Course link in the Accessibility Training tab within Blackboard. More information about the course can be found in the course overview video:

Other resources for accessibility include:

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