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UDL Principle 1: Multiple Means of Representation

Present information and content in different ways.


Learning outside Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information. For example, those with sensory disabilities (e.g., blindness or deafness); learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia); language or cultural differences, require different ways of accessing content. Others may simply understand information quicker or more efficiently through other means rather than printed text. Learning and transfer of learning occurs when multiple representations are used because they allow students to make connections within, as well as between, concepts. In short, there is not one means of representation that is optimal for all learners; providing options for representation can improve the learning opportunity in your course (National Center on Universal Design for Learning, 2012).

Learning is most effective when it is multimodal - when material is presented in multiple forms. Students benefit from having multiple means of accessing and interacting with material and demonstrating their knowledge through evaluation.

Watch this video to learn about Multiple Means of Representation (2.5 minutes)


For example, an audio description that accompanies the text description of an assignment, provides students with another modality to increase comprehension of the assignment criteria. If they have difficulty with the text, the audio format may increase their understanding of the expectations of the assignment.

For example: The following is an auditory description of an assignment that is also posted as a Word document on a course site.

Text: Therapeutic Assignment (.docx)
Accompanying audio file: Therapeutic assignment description (5 minutes)

To learn how to create an auditory message with your assignments please contact the C.A.F.E. at enrichment@durhamcollege.ca.

Recognition Network


recognition network The recognition networks are essential in most higher order thinking tasks. For example, reading requires pattern recognition, decoding and comprehension. In mathematics they are necessary to recognize numbers, shapes and equations (Rose & Strangman, 2007). The recognition network in the human brain requires exposure to a variety of examples. The Internet can provide a wealth of examples that can be linked to from the course materials. Faculty members are no longer required to build it all - sharing information, the backbone of the Internet, provides ample opportunity to access information from sources around the world.

Instructors can use media such as video to highlight critical features of readings, assignments or when marking. Computers have the capacity to zoom in on graphics or "spotlighting" on important aspects can be used when creating videos. As another example, an audio file of the marked students' assignments can provide a more human touch to the marking process and provide more in depth feedback.



Digital media can increase access to written work by enabling the fonts to be enlarged or adjusting the colour or contrast; screen readers can read the text aloud or transform it to Braille. Screen readers can highlight certain words, provide definitions, correct spelling and grammar, search for terms or link to similar information.

Here are some examples of how you can provide options (represent material in many ways) in your classroom:


Some technological suggestions:


Multiple Means of Representation

 Do you create a learning environment in which material and content are presented in a variety of ways?


UDL Guideline


Your course syllabus clearly describes the content and your expectations of the students.   (e.g. measurable outcomes, weekly learning objectives)

Use your outline as an advance organizer to go over expectations for the following week i.e. reading, videos to watch, etc.


You present information in multiple formats (e.g., lecture, text, graphics, audio, video, hands-on exercises)

Add an audio file explaining a major assignment.

You begin each lecture with an outline of what will be covered.


Start every class with an agenda so students know what to expect during class.

You summarize key points throughout the lecture, and tie these points to the larger course objectives.


Use an active learning activity such as clickers, a game or review questions to review the key points of your lesson.      

You post electronic equivalents of paper handouts and required reading assignments in alternative formats such as audio and video.


Post all course documents on the learning management system so students can access them whenever needed.

Documents should be in an accessible format ie. Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint (see tutorials below).


 This series of videos will help you create accessible documents that are user friendly for all your students.

Image of the Tutorials web site.

See these short Tutorials on how to make your documents
and PowerPoint presentations accessible.


Additional Resources

Faculty Focus: How a graphic syllabus can bring clarity to course structure



National Center on Universal Design for Learning. (2012). UDL Guidelines – Version 2.0. Available at: http://www.udlcenter.org/aboutudl/udlguidelines/principle1

Rose, D. and Strangman, N. (2007). Universal Design for Learning: meeting the challenge of individual learning differences through a neurocognitive perspective. Universal Access in the Information Society, 5:381-391. DOI 10.1007/s10209-006-0062-8