The UDL for IDEA Guide is a dynamic and flexible credential designed for post-secondary educators with modules and elements that can be repurposed for use in multiple contexts (e.g., student learning, administration training, etc.). The content models UDL principles, embeds accessibility elements and strives to decolonise the curriculum design and delivery with the goal of meeting equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) objectives, as well as Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) requirements.

The guide aims to:

  • Identify, curate, and where gaps are identified, develop scholarly UDL resources to inform the pedagogical practices of post-secondary educators, to meet the requirements of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), and attainment of EDI goals.
  • Design and deliver a flexible and adaptable online learning experience that supports the access and inclusion focused needs of all Ontario post-secondary educators.
  • Begin the process of changing behaviour and beliefs about accessibility and the purpose and practicalities of using UDL as a design framework in post-secondary education.
  • Establish an adaptable pedagogical and technical framework for a Microcredential that can be adapted to the local context of individual institutions.

Learning Outcomes

Post-secondary educators who participate in the entire UDL for IDEA project should be able to:

  • Define how to apply UDL guidelines in the design, development, and delivery of post-secondary curriculum
  • Determine the relationship between UDL, AODA, and EDI
  • Determine their goals and objectives in course design, development, and delivery to meet AODA and EDI requirements
  • Recognise and begin to plan for incorporating Indigenous pedagogies into post-secondary curricula
  • Plan to implement UDL principles in their pedagogies to meet AODA and EDI goals, within post-secondary learning environments


Why Universal Design for Learning

In the 1980s, architect Ronald Mace introduced the term Universal Design (UD). In its original application, UD refers to “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design” (Connell et al., 1997).

The concept of removing barriers and increasing access has been applied to the field of education with the development of various UD frameworks, including Universal Instructional Design (UID), Universal Design for Instruction (UDI), and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). In the digital environment, UD has been described as Inclusive Design, which is defined as “design that considers the full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and other forms of human difference” (Inclusive Design Research Centre, n.d.). While there are some differences in the origin and context of Inclusive Design and UD, as well as differences between the UD Frameworks, there are common goals:

  • Inclusivity
  • Recognizing and designing for diversity

While the goal of each of the frameworks mentioned is inclusion, we have decided to focus our modules on the UDL Guidelines because:

The CAST (2018) video, UDL to Change the World [1:03], explains more about why UDL was chosen for this project and how this framework is important for AODA and EDI goals.

Focus on AODA

This guide is firmly rooted in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) as it applies in the post-secondary context. As such, it may be used as part of mandatory training in post-secondary settings.

Indigenous Pedagogies and Decolonization

We recognize the presence of racist practices and processes that have posed barriers for students who identify as members of racialized groups. These barriers can mean that students do not enter post-secondary education, or do not complete their post-secondary program. This bias is found in the design and delivery of post-secondary education and in the scholarships of teaching and learning.

It is important to address these issues/racism and colonization of the curriculum because eliminating biased curriculum and unjust educational practices is part of providing equal access. When Indigenous learners can see themselves in the curriculum, they are more likely to be successful (Tunison, 2007) and more likely to experience success within their program (Indspire, 2018). Educating all learners, regardless of their background, contributes to graduates who are aware of the social injustices.

62. We call upon the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, in consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Aboriginal peoples, and educators, to:

ii. Provide the necessary funding to post-secondary institutions to educate teachers on how to integrate Indigenous knowledge and teaching methods into classrooms.

63. We call upon the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada to maintain an annual commitment to Aboriginal education issues, including:

ii. Sharing information and best practices on teaching curriculum related to residential schools and Aboriginal history.

iii. Building student capacity for intercultural understanding, empathy, and mutual respect.

iv. Identifying teacher-training needs relating to the above.

Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to ActionOpens in a new tab., 2015


The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any aboriginal, treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the aboriginal peoples of Canada including:

a. any rights or freedoms that have been recognized by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763; and

b. any rights or freedoms that now exist by way of land claim agreements or may be so acquired.

– The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Section 25 – Aboriginal and treaty rightsOpens in a new tab.)


Antoine, A., Mason, R., Mason, R., Palahicky, S., & Rodriguez de France, C. (2018). Pulling together: A guide for curriculum developers.BCcampus.

CAST. (2018, Feb 9). UDL to Change the World [Video]. YouTube.

Connell et al. (1997). The principles of universal design. NC State University.

Inclusive Design Research Centre. (n.d.). What is Inclusive Design.

Indspire. (2018). Post-secondary experience of Indigenous students following the truth and reconciliation commission: Summary of survey findings.

Meyer, A., Rose, D. H., & Gordon, D. T. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and practice. CAST Professional Publishing. Wakefield, MA.

Rose, D. H., Meyer, A., Strangman, N., & Rappolt, G. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Rose, L.T., Rouhani, P., & Fischer, K.W. (2013). The science of the individual. Mind, Brain, and Education, 7(3), 152-158.

Rose, T. (2016). The end of average: How we succeed in a world that values sameness. Harper Collins.

Tunison, S. (2007). Aboriginal learning: A review of current metrics of success. Aboriginal Education Research Centre, University of Saskatchewan

UNESCO. (2011). Education provider. In TVETipedia Glossary.



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