Universal Design

Principles of Universal Design for Instruction

This reference tool for faculty, provided by the Disability Resource Centre (DRC) at UBC Okanagan, explores the application of Universal Design for Instruction principles.  These principles can assist you in designing inclusive speeches, presentations, and lectures in order to minimize the need to make individual academic accommodations for students with disabilities in your class or lab.

Since universal design never advocates compromising essential information, effective planning must begin with
content.  The DRC encourages faculty members to consider:

What are the essential components of my presentation, speech, or classroom lecture?

  • What do I want my students to know?
  • What lasting impact do I want to have?

How can I present this information without compromising the essential components identified and in the most inclusive way possible?

  • What challenges to inclusion might my presentation style create?
  • How can I plan my presentation to provide meaningful access to all members of my audience and minimize the need for individual academic accommodations?


How can I implement Universal Design for Learning into my presentations?

Ensure that the instructional climate is welcoming and inclusive, and that high expectations are espoused for all students.
Checkbox Consider including a variety of delivery methods that allow multi-modal learning (e.g., lecture combined with PowerPoint presentation; group discussions with assigned notetakers).
Checkbox Prepare handouts using at least 18-point-size font and PowerPoint slides using at least 24-point-size; select a simple font such as Times New Roman with a high contrast background (white text on a black background).
Checkbox Ensure that the physical setup of the room allows for easy movement for persons using wheelchairs and guide dogs, provides space for ASL-English interpreters or real-time captionists, and is adequately lighted for the audience to take notes and for ASL-English interpreters to be seen.
Checkbox At the beginning of your presentation, briefly describe your agenda to let the audience know what to expect and to provide a framework.  Make sure that the design is simple and easy to follow.
Checkbox Arrange the presentation/lecture content logically and in order of importance.
Checkbox Allow time for questioning and clarification throughout presentations.
Checkbox Always use plain language that is to the point; avoid jargon.
Checkbox Accompany visual materials with verbal description; practice describing the images succinctly.  Allow adequate time for processing slides and visual images.
Checkbox Always ensure that all video material is captioned.
Checkbox Post handouts and summary notes on an accessible website following the presentation.

Last reviewed shim6/21/2011 12:35:34 AM

More information

For detailed information on Principles of Universal Design for Instruction and how to use them in your curricula, visit: