The Big Picture

Several students sitting in a classroom, facing the camera, busily taking notes with pen and paper and one on a tablet device. Some likely have disabilities but if so, they are not visible ones.

The intent of this website is to provide helpful information for instructors in understanding how a wide range of disabilities impact students' learning and assessment environments. The goal of this website is to better equip instructors to support students with disabilities and to identify the institution support entities that provide accommodation assistance to both students and instructors.

This course should provide answers to such questions as:

  • What kinds of disabilities may require accommodation? Why?
  • What are typical accommodations for disabilities?
  • What is the process for setting up accommodation for a student?
  • How will accommodating students impact my work as an instructor?

The information contained in this course has been vetted and verified for accuracy. Some students may have coexisting disabilities. Many disabilities are invisible, and not all students with disabilities will ask for support or accommodation. Accommodation for many types of disabilities takes much less instructor time and effort than is often thought.

Click About This Course for additional background information on the course features and creators.

Universal Design for Learning

Universal Design for Learning/Universal Instructional Design (UDL/UID)1 aims to provide an ideal learning environment for all students. UDL/UID is a curriculum design and delivery model focused on providing accessible and inclusive education; however, it is not meant to address only the needs of students with disabilities.

The theory of UDL/UID is based on the premise that each student is a unique learner with a different set of needs, preferences, interests, motivations, prior knowledge, strengths, and limitations. It also assumes that each of these traits has a significant impact on how an individual responds to the learning environment. According to UDL/UID, by considering the variability of diverse learners at the level of curriculum design, it is possible to deliver flexible and responsive learning experiences that simultaneously minimizes barriers and enhances opportunities amongst all learners.

In order to accomplish this goal, UDL/UID relies on a set of core principles that place value on providing options for how information is presented, how students can express what they know (e.g. assessment), and how interest and motivation may be fostered. In addition to these principles, UDL/UID prescribes a welcoming, interactive, and open learning environment where students feel comfortable and encouraged to participate.

In recent years, UDL/UID has been incorporated to varying degrees by many large postsecondary institutions within Canada.

For more information about UDL/UID, please visit or

Click here to view the transcript of this video.

  • 1. In fact, UID and UDL both related, yet separate models. However, for the purposes of this description, they will be considered sufficiently interchangeable.