March 2021 Newsletter – Universal Design for Learning: UDL with Adults

You may have noticed that the adults with whom you work are just as varied in their knowledge and abilities as the children in your care. It is important to note that learning differences don’t stop once a person leaves school. Coworkers and enrolled family members engage with new information and demonstrate skills differently depending on the same factors we mentioned for children.  Things such as prior experiences, language differences, cultural norms, and disabilities can all impact how adults learn.

All of the recommendations provided in the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) Guidelines apply to adult learners, in both formal and informal learning situations. Here are a few examples of how you can incorporate UDL into your work with adults.


  • Create safe spaces where mistakes are seen as learning opportunities.
  • Build strong, trusting relationships, where it feels safe to share thoughts and ideas.
  • Delegate and share responsibilities.
  • Provide opportunities for collaboration with the option to work independently.
  • Provide timely, specific, strengths-based feedback that highlights success and guides the individual toward the next steps.
  • Create multiple ways for adults to approach new materials, including written resources, videos, and role modeling through coaching or mentoring.
  • Tap into prior knowledge, experiences, and beliefs through self-reflection activities.


  • Make sure everyone understands keywords and phrases.
  • Provide enhanced print materials that have an easy-to-read font, highlighted key ideas, and visuals that illustrate important facts.
  • Translate important information into the individual’s home language.
  • Encourage families to have interpreters present at meetings and work to find an interpreter if one is not available within the family.
  • Provide visual reminders in the environment that contain a few keywords or cues for coworkers to keep in mind.
  • Create visual task boards to organize and track progress toward goals and project completion.
  • Checklists, agendas, and partially completed notetaking documents are also beneficial.

Action & Expression

  • Utilize technology to communicate and keep adults informed, including social media platforms.
  • Recognize the effort put forth in completed tasks, even if it is not exactly how you would have completed the task.
  • Provide continued support, demonstration of the skill, and feedback until the adult feels confident.
  • Create goals that are realistic and manageable.
  • Chunk new information into small chunks that have been prioritized.
  • Provide a variety of additional resources that adults can access independently.
  • Create systems of accountability that allow enough time to reach goals, but are realistic.
  • Introduce frequent self-reflection as a monitoring tool.

There are so many different ways UDL can be used to promote skills and boost program quality. Be sure to introduce UDL to your coworkers so that everyone can identify strategies that would be helpful to them and in their classrooms.

Here is the CAST website for more information.

For the main article Universal Design for Learning, CLICK HERE

For the article Engagement, CLICK HERE

For the article Representation, CLICK HERE

For the article Action & Expression, CLICK HERE