AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


Guidelines - The Principles in Practice

US organisation CAST, which first  developed the UDL Framework, have produced a set of key guidelines related to each of the core principles of UDL. We have created a quiz tool below which will help you to reflect on your own practice and gives you your 'UDL Score'. 

CAST's UDL Guidelines

 Principle: Provide Multiple Means of Representation - Guidelines

Guideline 1: Provide options for perception

  •  Offer ways of customising the display of information e.g. provide PowerPoint slides in advance, provide accessible digital documents which can then be manipulated by students (colour, size of font etc.)
  • Offer alternatives for key Auditory and Visual information e.g. ensure videos have captions, ensure images are described using alternative text etc.

Guideline 2: Provide options for language, mathematical expressions, and symbols

  • Clarify vocabulary and symbols e.g. provide glossaries, definitions of symbols and keys for graphics/maps
  • Clarify unfamiliar syntax (in language or in math formulas) or underlying structure (in diagrams, graphs, illustrations, extended expositions or narratives)
  • Support decoding of text, mathematical notation, and symbols e.g. by providing key documents in an accessible digital format (which allows for text to be read aloud, manipulated and for words to be defined/translated to other languages)
  • Illustrate through multiple media e.g. present key concepts in one form of symbolic representation (e.g., an expository text or a math equation) with an alternative form  (e.g., an illustration, diagram, table, model, video, comic strip, story board, photograph, animation)

Guideline 3: Provide options for comprehension

  • Activate or supply background knowledge e.g. anchor instruction by linking to and activating relevant prior knowledge (e.g., using visual imagery, concept anchoring, or concept mastery routines)
  • Highlight patterns, critical features, big ideas, and relationships - emphasise key elements in text, graphics, diagrams and formulas
  • Guide information processing, visualisation, and manipulation e.g. Give explicit prompts for each step in a sequential process, “Chunk” information into smaller elements and remove unnecessary distractions unless they are essential to the instructional goal

Multiple Means of Representation 

 Principle: Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression - Guidelines

Guideline 4: Provide options for physical action

  • Provide alternatives in the requirements for rate, timing, speed, and range of motor action required to interact with instructional materials, physical manipulatives, and technologies
  • Provide alternatives for physically interacting with materials by hand if possible

Guideline 5: Provide options for expression and communication

  • Use multiple media for communication e.g. encourage ‘composition’ in media such as text, speech, drawing, illustration, design, film, music, visual art, sculpture or video
  • Use social media and interactive web tools to communicate and receive feedback (e.g. for in-lecture group work)
  • Build fluencies with graduated levels of support for practice and performance - Learners must develop a variety of fluencies (e.g., visual, audio, mathematical, reading, etc.).

Guideline 6: Provide options for executive functions

  • At the highest level of the human capacity to act skillfully are the so-called “executive functions”, allowing humans to overcome impulsive, short-term reactions to their environment and instead to set long-term goals, plan effective strategies for reaching those goals, monitor their progress, and modify strategies as needed. Executive capacity is sharply reduced when: 1) executive functioning capacity must be devoted to managing “lower level” skills and responses which are not automatic or fluent thus the capacity for “higher level” functions is taken; and 2) executive capacity itself is reduced due to some sort of higher level disability or to lack of fluency with executive strategies.
  • Guide appropriate goal-setting e.g. Provide guides and checklists for scaffolding goal-setting and post goals, objectives, and schedules in an obvious place
  • Support planning and strategy development e.g. Embed prompts to “show and explain your work” (e.g., portfolio review, art critiques) and provide checklists and project planning templates for understanding the problem, setting up prioritisation, sequences, and schedules of steps
  • Facilitate managing information and resources e.g. provide templates/tools for data collection and organising information
  • Enhance capacity for monitoring progress e.g. ask questions to guide self-monitoring and reflection, show representations of progress (e.g., before and after photos, graphs and charts showing progress over time, process portfolios)

Multiple Means of Action and Expression 

 Principle: Provide Multiple Means of Engagement- Guidelines

Guideline 7: Provide options for recruiting interest

  • In an instructional setting, it is often inappropriate to provide choice of the learning objective itself, but it is often appropriate to offer choices in how that objective can be reached.
  • Provide learners with as much discretion and autonomy as possible by providing choices in such things as tools used for information gathering or production, format/media of submissions, color, design, or graphics of layouts, etc.
  • Optimise relevance, value, and authenticity e.g. vary activities and sources of information so that they can be socially/culturally relevant and appropriate for different racial, cultural, ethnic, and gender groups
  • Include activities that foster the use of imagination to solve novel and relevant problems, or make sense of complex ideas in creative ways

Guideline 8: Provide options for sustaining effort and persistence

  • Heighten salience of goals and objectives e.g. prompt or require learners to explicitly formulate or restate goals and encourage division of long-term goals into short-term objectives.
  • Foster collaboration and communication e.g. create cooperative learning groups with clear goals, roles, and responsibilities
  • Increase mastery-oriented feedback - assessment is most productive for sustaining engagement when the feedback is relevant, constructive, accessible, consequential, and timely.

Guideline 9: Provide options for self-regulation

  • Promote expectations and beliefs that optimise motivation e.g. provide coaches, mentors, or agents that model the process of setting personally appropriate goals and support activities that encourage self-reflection and identification of personal goals
  • Facilitate personal coping skills and strategies e.g. provide differentiated models, scaffolds and feedback for developing coping mechanisms based on real life situations or simulations
  • Develop self-assessment and reflection e.g. offer tools/templates to assist individuals in learning to collect, chart and display data from their own performance for the purpose of monitoring progress

Multiple Means of Engagement

Get Your UDL Score

We've devised a quick tool which gets you to look at CAST’s UDL principles and guidelines in the context of your own practice and ask – which of these principles am I already unknowingly adhering to in my work?

Afterwards, we’ll give you your UDL score. It’s not too scientific, but it’s a bit of fun and might give you an indication of where your practice is at in relation to UDL. 

Take the quiz and get your UDL Score!

Visit CAST's UDL Center website>>

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