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Universal Design in Learning (UDL)

"Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework for designing curricula that enable all individuals to gain knowledge, skills, and enthusiasm for learning. UDL provides rich supports for learning and reduces barriers to the curriculum while maintaining high achievement standards for all." from the Center for Applied Special Technology - http://www.cast.org

UDL tools help teachers and students quickly adapt instructional media to match each student's needs. The flexibility of these tools give students multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement. The resources below provide extensive information on UDL.

  1. Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age - http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/ideas/tes/. an online book on UDL by David Rose and Anne Meyer.
  2. UDL Toolkits - http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/toolkits/ . online resources on UDL from CAST
  3. UDL Guidelines Graphic Organizer - http://www.cast.org/publications/UDLguidelines/UDL_Guidelines_v1.0-Organizer.pdf . visual guide to the basics of UDL
  4. UDL Guidelines - http://www.cast.org/publications/UDLguidelines/version1.html . guildelines to help in designing flexible ciurricula.
  5. UDL Guidelines Blog - http://udlguidelines.edublogs.org/ . a forum for educators and education stakeholders
  6. UDL Editions - http://udleditions.cast.org/ . classic texts from world literature presented in a flexible online interface. view the editions video
  7. CAST UDL BookBuilder - http://bookbuilder.cast.org/ . free online tool for developing digital books. includes reading comprehension supports
  8. CAST Strategy Tutor - http://cst.cast.org/cst/auth-login . free online tool to support students in activities that involved online reading, research, and information collection
  9. CAST UDL Curriculum Self-Check - http://udlselfcheck.cast.org/ . free online tool that helps educators building options anf flexibility in the curriculum
  10. CAST UDL Lesson Builder - http://lessonbuilder.cast.org/ . free online tool to help teachers cutomize standards-based curriculum
  11. Pathways to Learning for Students with Significant Cognitive Challenges . an excellent handout from the University of Kentucky on supports for reading, writing, and presentations.
  12. Using Flexible Technology to Meet the Needs of Diverse Learners - http://www.wested.org/cs/we/view/rs/763 . a knowledge brief on how some standard, readily available technologies can be used to taylor instruction to meet individual student needs. can be purchased or viewed online
  13. Performance Technology Toolkit . a handout on technology tools to enhance performance across the curriculum
  14. AT and UDL - http://teachingeverystudent.blogspot.com . great collection of information and ideas on teaching every student
  15. Computer Based Study Strategies - http://cate.uoregon.edu:8100/ . excellent resource on strategies that benefit all students

The North Star

Stories and resources to help teachers and students find their personal North Star.

  1. The North Star Story . http://www.fablevision.com/northstar/index.html
  2. North Star Posters . http://www.fablevision.com/northstar/miniposters/index.html
  3. North Star Guide to Technology Planning . http://www.fablevision.com/northstar/techplan/index.html
  4. FableVision Educator Resources . http://www.fablevision.com/education/resources/index.htm


There are some amazing new tools used for communication that are great for students with disabilities. In the past students learned shorthand in highschool. Now we have text messaging, and some students are using a cell phone as their augmentative communication device. Check out some of these great technologies.

  1. Jott - http://www.jott.com . a phone service where you call and leave a short voice message that is converted to text, emails, reminders, etc.
  2. Text Message Abbreviations - http://www.webopedia.com/quick_ref/textmessageabbreviations.asp . a guide to learning text messaging
  3. Text Message Translator - http://lingo2word.com/translate.php . type in English and translate it to text lingo, or type in text lingo and translate it to English
  4. Podbean . http://www.podbean.com/ . social podcasting and blogging service. a great free way to start podcasting

Digital Text

Digital text is extremely flexible and can be quickly changed in font, font size, and color to match a student's needs. It can also be read aloud by computers for students who need auditory support or occasional assistance with some words.

  1. ReadingBar - www.readplease.com . adds text to speech to Internet Explorer on Windows so web pages can be read out loud and saved to audio . it also includes a feature that will enlarge the graphics and text on a web page
  2. Natural Reader - www.naturalreaders.com . a free Win text to speech utility. add to Adobe Reader and your computer can read PDF files aloud . use with a web browser and the Internet "talks"
  3. GhostReader (Mac) from Convenienceware - A free text to speech tool for the Macintosh.
  4. Speaking Notepad (Win) from Qwerty Studios - An inexpensive talking word processor.
  5. Universal Reader & Universal Reader Plus - www.readingmadeez.com/Products.php . are inexpensive text to speech programs (Plus includes scanning) for Win that include a "point and hear" feature where you can use a mouse to point to text and hear it aloud. you can apply for a grant from the company to get the software provided for the first year
  6. Talking Word Processor 9.1 . www.readingmadeez.com/Products.php - is an inexpensive talking word processor that includes highlight extraction, audio grammar checker, and a summarize tool. you can apply for a grant from the company to get the software provided for the first year
  7. Nisus Express (Mac) from Nisus - A word processor with highlighting and other comprehension support tools.
  8. SOLO - www.donjohnston.com . extensive set of tools for writing with text to speech and activity guidelines
  9. Kurzweil 3000 - www.kurzweiledu.com . scans printed text to digital format with embedded study tools
  10. Read&Write Gold - www.texthelp.com . set of extensive study and text to speech tools that work with any program running on a computer
  11. TextAloud . http://www.textaloud.com . software that converts text into audio files that can be burned to an audio CD or played on an MP3 player

Memory Tools

Many students with disabilities have problems with memory and making connections to past learning. Externalized memory journals can make a difference when students review past entries on a regular basis. Time organization tools can also be extremely helpful. All of these tools can be beneficial to all students so they make great UDL additions to any classroom. And since they are digital you can add a text to speech tool and you have a talking memory journal for those students who need audio support.

  1. Aspire (MacX) - http://www.unifiq.com/aspire/ . broad goal oriented brainstorming and plan review software . includes some interesting tools for visually sorting information by importance
  2. Evernote - http://www.evernote.com . inexpensive information management software for Windows
  3. NoteBook - http://www.circusponies.com . inexpensive information management software for Macintosh
  4. OneNote - http://www.microsoft.com . information management software for Windows
  5. Curio (MacX) - http://www.zengobi.com/products/curio/ . a new and full featured information organization software program
  6. OmniOutliner (MacX) - http://www.omnigroup.com/applications/omnioutliner/ . one of the best idea organizers and writing tools on the Macintosh. the Pro version includes the ability to record audio with the notes.
  7. PlanPlus - www.franklincovey.com/fc/get_organized/electronic_planning/
    is a software version of the FranklinCovey Day Planner. this can be a great tool for students in organizing/storing information and remembering timelines using a "typical" tool
  8. Toodledo - http://www.toodledo.com/ . an online tool to keep task lists, plan use of time, and get email reminders

Most interactive whiteboards (Smart, Activboard), include screen capture "notebooks" that are great memory tools when used on individual student's computers.

Graphics / Videos

Because of the popularity of online graphics and video, providing access to digital graphics and video tools can quickly infuse technology into the classroom. Teachers can give a classroom presentation and then have it saved to video and uploaded to the Internet in only a few minutes (flexibility in representation). Students can create video reports (flexibility in expression). And all students can choose a method of content engagement that best fits their individual needs.

  1. Flip . an inexpensive video camera that is user friendly and includes built-in software to email videos or publish them online to YouTube or AOLvideo . http://www.theflip.com/index_flip.shtml
  2. Jing Project (Win . Mac) . currently a free set of software tools and online video hosting space . you can record images on a computer and record what you are doing on a computer as a video, then email it or upload it so others can view . http://www.jingproject.com/
  3. CamStudio (Win) . free open source screen recording software to record to an avi file any computer activity . http://camstudio.org/
  4. Webinaria (Win) . free open source screen recording software . http://www.webinaria.com/
  5. Screenium (Mac) . inexpensive screen and audio recorder for making quality training videos . http://www.synium.de/products/screenium/index.html
  6. SnapzProX (Mac) . extensive set of screen recording to video tools . http://www.ambrosiasw.com/utilities/snapzprox/
  7. Camtasia (Win . Mac) . excellent set of screen recording to video tools with extensive choices for final video format . http://www.techsmith.com/

Internet Based Tools

Internet based tools provide a great starting point to design UDL in the classroom. For example, have you considered letting struggling readers search by images instead of text? Several search engines offer this feature. To help visually organize text view the cached web pages. All the search terms will be highlighted. Add text to speech tools and students can hear the information on the web pages read aloud.

  1. ZAC Web Browser - http://www.zacbrowser.com/. a free web browser designed to simplify the interface and choices vailable, supporting engagement with students who find too many choices a distraction or barrier
  2. EdTech UDL Toolkit - http://teachingeverystudent.blogspot.com/2007/06/free-technology-toolkit-for-udl-in-all.html . blog of Web2.0 and inexpensive UDL tools
  3. Web Tools 4 U 2 Use - http://webtools4u2use.wikispaces.com/ . another blog of Web2.0 and inexpensive UDL tools
  4. CommonCraft - http://www.commoncraft.com/ . video explanations of new Web 2.0 tools
  5. VoiceThread - http://voicethread.com/#home . website where students can collaborate on an information sharing activity using a wide variety of expression, such as text, audio, and video
  6. OATS - http://www.oatsoft.org/ . open source AT software developers. products include a Firefox extension to add text to speech to the browser and Mouse Gestures for mouse control of the browser
  7. Google - http://www.google.com . has special search features, such as news.google.com and scholar.google.com
  8. KartOO - http://www.kartoo.com/ . visual search engine with prompted search refinement
  9. schoolr - http://www.schoolr.com/ . one stop shop for searches, thesaurus, translators, and conversion tools
  10. SCIRUS - http://www.scirus.com/srsapp . searches only science articles and information
  11. netTrekker d.i. - http://www.nettrekker.com/di . a search engine with built-in text to speech and readability levels
  12. Assignment Calculator - http://www.lib.umn.edu/help/calculator . helps students plan a paper
  13. OttoBib - http://ottobib.com/ . online bibliography creator
  14. Quia - http://www.quia.com/servlets/quia.web.QuiaWebManager . a service for making online quizzes with immediate grading. cost about $50.00 per teacher
  15. Script-O - http://www.readingmatrix.com/quizmaker/index.php . a free online quiz making service
  16. Education Place - http://www.eduplace.com/ . wide variety of online resources from Houghton Mifflin
  17. Read . Write . Think - http://www.readwritethink.org/ . online resource of lessons and student materials from the international reading association

Virtual Meetings

Online virtual meetings provide support for communication and collaboration with groups of high diversity of skills.

  1. vRoom - http://www.elluminate.com/vroom . a free distance learning tool that gives up to three users at one time interactive audio, video, virtual whiteboard, and application sharing
  2. ConnectNow - http://www.adobe.com/acom/connectnow/ . a free distance learning tool that gives up to three users interactive audio, video, virtual whiteboard, and application sharing
  3. dimdim - http://www.dimdim.com . distance learning tools with video and audio conferencing, virtual whiteboard, and desktop sharing. you can sign up for a free 20 seat room.
  4. ooVoo - http://www.oovoo.com/ . audio and video conferencing tools
  5. Skype - http://www.skype.com/ . audio and video conferencing tools