The origins of Universal Design (UD) evolved from the disciplines of engineering, urban planning, and construction. It involved consideration of factors associated with aesthetics, engineering options, environmental issues, safety concerns, and cost. According to the North Carolina State University Center for Universal Design, UD principles are characterized by 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. The example of this is a ramp into a building. This provides access to a full range of individuals (e.g., person pushing a stroller, using crutches, carrying a heavy load, or using a wheelchair). Principles of UD that are being incorporated within the continuum of education are referred to as Universal Design of Learning (UDL), Universal Design of Instruction (UDI), and Universal Course Design (UCD).
Characteristics of UDL, UDI, and UDC are similar. They provide strategies for the student (or learner). UDI is an approach to college instruction that anticipates diversity of learners and provides a framework for college faculty to incorporate inclusive strategies in their teaching. UCD provides specific guidance on syllabus design and other aspects of college course structure.
The University of Oregon's Teaching Effectiveness Program offers an in-depth look at Universal Design as it relates to: