What is the difference between accessibility and universal design for learning (UDL)?

You may have heard the terms accessibility and universal design for learning (UDL) and thought that these terms were interchangeable. However, they have different meanings.


The term accessibility refers to a product, service, and facility‚Äôs ability to be independently used by people with a variety of disabilities. This term became widely known due to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which mandated that public facilities and services be fully accessible to people with disabilities. In 1998, an amendment to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 was passed, which mandated the development of accessibility standards for software, hardware, websites, videos, and other information technology. The Web Accessibility Initiative of the World Wide Web Consortium has also developed guidelines and comprehensive resources for designing accessible web pages.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an approach to designing course instruction, materials, and content to benefit students of all learning styles without adaptation or retrofitting. Universal Design for Learning provides equal access to learning, not simply equal access to information. It allows the student to control the method of accessing information while the instructor monitors the learning process and initiates any beneficial methods. The goal of UDL is to maximize the learning of students with a wide range of characteristics by applying UDL principles to all aspects of instruction (e.g., delivery methods, physical spaces, information resources, technology, personal interactions, and assessments). It should be noted that UDL does not remove academic challenges; it removes barriers to access. Adhering to these standards will not only benefit students with disabilities but also will help assure that all of your students will be able to access and use the online content you wish to share with them.

Key Components 

The table below lists some of the key components of accessibility and UDL.

List of key components of accessibility and UDL
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
Gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities Creates best practices
Guarantees equal opportunity in public accommodations, employment, transportation, State and local government services, and telecommunications Incorporates choice for all people in every aspect of the world
Defines minimum accessibility standards Applied to the design of buildings, products, services, education, web pages, information technologies, and any other man-made items





Article ID: 61487
Wed 8/29/18 2:14 PM
Mon 9/20/21 11:03 AM