UDI Principles

Principle 1
Equitable Use

Instruction is designed to be useful to and accessible by people with diverse abilities.

  • Provide the same means of use for all students; identical whenever possible, equivalent when not
    • Plan and deliver instruction and assess learning in ways that anticipate diversity in learners in the classroom as opposed to reliance on retrofitted accommodations
    • Maintain the same standards and high expectations for all students
  • Avoid segregating or stigmatizing any students
  • Make provision for confidentiality and safety available for all students
  • Make the instructional process beneficial to and productive for all students

Principle 2
Flexibility in Use

Instruction is designed to accommodate a wide range of individual abilities.

  • Provide choice in methods of use
    • Plan instruction to proactively take into account a wide range of individual preferences and abilities for acquiring and expressing knowledge
  • Provide for multiple means of engaging in learning tasks
  • Facilitate the student’s accuracy and precision
    • Design instruction with flexibility in methods of evaluating learning outcomes
    • Provide clear and on-going feedback about performance and progress
  • Provide adaptability to the student’s pace
    • Including delivery of instruction, self-paced components, and assessment

Principle 3
Simple and Intuitive

Instruction is designed in a straightforward and predictable manner, regardless of the student’s experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.

  • Eliminate unnecessary complexity
    • Plan instruction with clear expectations regarding learning objectives, learning outcomes, student responsibilities, methods of evaluation, and specific time lines for completing course requirements. This allows the student to clearly understand the learning process, but does not compromise course objectives or course outcomes
  • Be consistent with student expectations and intuition
    • Deliver instruction using clear and straightforward methods that related to learning outcomes
    • Provide conspicuous strategies for approaching learning
  • Accommodate a wide range of literacy and language skills that are not essential to the course requirements
  • Arrange information consistent with its importance
    • Emphasize important information, skills, or competencies
  • Provide effective prompting during instruction and deliver feedback immediately and after task completion

Principle 4
Perceptible Information

Instruction is designed so that necessary information is communicated effectively to the student, regardless of ambient conditions or the student’s sensory abilities

  • Use different modes (pictorial, verbal, tactile) for multiple presentation of essential information
    • Use multisensory methods of instruction
    • Use active learning techniques in class or outside class
  • Make instructional tools (textbook, syllabus, reading material, etc) available to all students in alternate formats (e.g., electronic format, on-line)
  • Deliver instruction in ways that eliminate ambiguity for learners, emphasizing the essential elements of the course and content
  • Provide compatibility with a variety of techniques or devices used by students with sensory limitations, allowing for the use of AT in and out of the classroom

Principle 5
Tolerance for Error

Instruction anticipates variation in individual student learning pace and prerequisite skills.

  • Plan instruction to account for diversity in students’ rate of learning and levels of prerequisite skills or background knowledge while maintaining academic standards
  • Include opportunities for practice and feedback based upon a mastery model of learning
  • Apply scaffolding methods of instruction
  • Incorporate opportunities for review of material, including structured opportunities to recall or apply previously taught information

Principle 6
Low Physical Effort

Instruction is designed to minimize nonessential physical effort in order to allow maximum attention to learning.

  • Provide a classroom environment that is physically comfortable to allow the student to focus on cognitive tasks
  • Use reasonable operating forces
    • Provide or allow supports in and outside of class to minimize physical demands of learning that can, for some students, consume concentration and distract from the cognitive task
  • Minimize repetitive actions
    • Allow use of technology to minimize physical task demands
  • Minimize sustained physical effort that is not essential to the class

Principle 7
Size and Space for Approach and Use

Instruction is designed with consideration for appropriate size and space for approach, reach, manipulations, and use regardless of a student’s body size, posture, mobility and communication needs.

  • Make reach to all components comfortable for any seated or standing user
  • Provide a clear line of sight to important elements for any seated or standing user
  • Accommodate variation in hand and grip size
  • Provide adequate space for the use of assistive devices or personal assistance

Principle 8
A Community of Learners

The instructional environment promotes interaction and communication between students and faculty.

  • Provide time and opportunity for frequent student-faculty contact
  • Consider the importance of making a personal connection with students and incorporating student motivation strategies
  • Develop collaboration, cooperation, and respect among students in class as will as outside of class

Principle 9
Instructional Climate

Instruction is designed to be welcoming and inclusive. High expectations are espoused for all students.

  • Communicate high expectations for achievement for all students
  • Promote integration of learning or metacognitive strategies to enhance higher level cognition
  • Establish a climate of comfort with diversity and a respect for diverse talents


Scott, S., McGuire, J., Foley, T. (2000). Universal design for instruction: An exploration of principles for anticipating and responding to student diversity in the classroom.

Last Update: April 09 2009
For additional information, contact: Gail Hammond