Facultyware Logo   Tools for the Universal Design of Instruction

Shaw, S., Scott, S., & McGuire, J. (2001). Teaching college students with learning disabilities. ERIC Digest #e618 . Arlington , VA : Council for Exceptional Children . Available at: http://www.ericec.org/digests/e618.html

The following table provides a listing of the 9 Principles of Universal Design for Instruction©, as well as a definition and example for each principle. While each of the examples demonstrates an application of the principle, the examples are not necessarily universal in reflecting all of the nine principles, but illustrate the intent of the principle under consideration.


Principle and Definition



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.

Use of web-based courseware products with links to on-line supports and resources so all students can access materials as needed regardless of varying academic preparation, need for review of content, distance from campus, etc.


Principle 2 : Flexibility in use
Instruction is designed to accommodate a wide range of individual abilities. Provide choice in methods of use.

Use of varied instructional methods (lecture with a visual outline, group activities, use of stories, or web board based discussions) to provide different ways of learning and experiencing knowledge.


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.

Provision of a grading rubric for papers or projects to clearly lay out expectations for performance.


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.

Selection of text books, reading material, and other instructional supports in digital format or online
so students with diverse needs (e.g., vision, learning, attention, English as a Second Language) can access materials through traditional hard copy or with the use of various technological supports (e.g., screen reader, text enlarger, on-line dictionary).


Principle 5 : Tolerance for error Instruction anticipates variation in individual student learning pace and prerequisite skills.

Structuring a long-term course project so that students have the option of turning in individual project components separately for constructive feedback and for integration into the final product.


Principle 6 : Low physical effort Instruction is designed to minimize nonessential physical effort in order to allow maximum attention to learning.
Note: This principle does not apply when physical effort is integral to essential requirements of a course.

Allow students to use a word processor for writing and editing papers or essay exams.


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.

In small class settings, use of a circular seating arrangement to allow students to see and face speakers during discussion— important for students with attention deficit disorder or who are deaf or hard of hearing.


Principle 8 : A community of learners The instructional environment promotes interaction and communication among students and between students and faculty.

Fostering communication among students in and out of class by structuring study groups, discussion groups, e-mail lists, or chat rooms.


Principle 9 : Instructional climate Instruction is designed to be welcoming and inclusive. High expectations are espoused for all students.

A statement in the class syllabus affirming the need for class members to respect diversity in order to establish the expectation of tolerance as well as encourage students to discuss any special learning needs with the instructor.