Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning considers the means by which ALL children, including, but not limited to, those with disabilities, English Language Learners (ELLs), and gifted children, might best acquire information and demonstrate competence, providing children with equal opportunities to learn. There are three main principles of Universal Design for Learning described below.

  1. Multiple Means of Representation (the “What” of learning)
  2. Multiple Means of Engagement (the “Why” of learning)
  3. Multiple Means of Action and Expression (the “How” of learning).

The PBS KIDS Science Learning Framework embraces UDL by using language that allows children to meet learning goals in many different ways and by providing examples for applying these.

What does Multiple Means of Representation look like in media?

  • Providing spoken and written language options in activities, games, etc. to ensure that vocabulary is equally accessible for all students: e.g. options for translations into multiple languages, embedded links to science-specific vocabulary definitions, options for text-to-speech decoding with highlighting, links to explanations of symbols, etc.
  • Including supports for parents and teachers to assist children with relevant vocabulary and concepts.

What does Multiple Means of Expression look like in media?

  • Providing options in activities, games, etc. for navigation and physical interaction so that learners with motor limitations can participate fully.
  • Ensuring that navigation and interactions can be conducted using voice commands, common AT devices, or alternatives to mouse, etc. When recording observations in a science journal in a game format, for example, providing dictation capabilities and/or stamps and appropriate icons and graphics to use. See guidelines for physical access at National Center on Accessible Educational Materials.

What does Multiple Means of Engagement look like in media?

  • Using characters to model strategies for appropriately handling problems or mistakes (e.g., modeling persistence when not able to immediately solve a problem or complete a task while other characters/adults offer words of encouragement). In addition, while main characters may model age-appropriate planning strategies, other characters can model less complex skills/knowledge to sustain the interest of younger viewers or viewers with developmental delays.
  • Providing appropriate and adaptable game-play to match individual user level.
  • Providing opportunities for teamwork and collaborative investigation and design.