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Universal Design for Learning (UDL): About UDL

Universal design for learning (UDL) is an innovative approach to teaching and learning that “designs to the edges.” No longer the average, but a tapestry woven into the uniqueness of the individual. Breaking free from the “myth of average,” standardized c

About UDL

Libraries have many reasons to create accessible facilities to visitors with a wide range of abilities and disabilities, including legal requirements, policy guidelines, and a professional focus on equity and inclusion. At a minimum, all US libraries are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires that structural barriers in libraries be removed or remediated to allow people with disabilities to access spaces.

The American Library Association’s Library Services for People with Disabilities Policy declares that “Libraries should use strategies based upon the principles of universal design to ensure that library policy, resources, and services meet the needs of all people.” Universal design for libraries goes beyond meeting the baseline guidelines for accessibility as required by the ADA. This area of ongoing development may also be called "inclusive design" or "accessible design." The resources on this page provide guidance and examples of universal design in public spaces and/or specific to libraries.

Updated April 2021


Universal Design (UD) is defined as “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.” In the late 1990s a team of UD experts at NC State University developed a set of seven principles that are in general use today (Center for Universal Design, 1997). These are:

  1. Equitable Use - The design is useful and marketable to people with diverse abilities.
  2. Flexibility in Use - The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities.
  3. Simple and Intuitive Use - Use of the design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or current concentration level.
  4. Perceptible Information - The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.
  5. Tolerance for Error - The design minimizes hazards and the adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions.
  6. Low Physical Effort - The design can be used efficiently and comfortably and with a minimum of fatigue.
  7. Size and Space for Approach and Use - Appropriate size and space is provided for approach, reach, manipulation, and use regardless of user's body size, posture, or mobility.

The Center for Universal Design (1997). The Principles of Universal Design, Version 2.0. Raleigh, NC: North Carolina State University. Retrieved from:

Here are some resources that will help you design your course using the Universal Design for Learning Framework:


Several blog posts and LibGuides provide context-specific information on accessible design for libraries of all types:

The following national centers and clearinghouses provide reliable and relevant information online for accessible, inclusive, and universal design: