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Principle 2


  • How can I provide information so that it can be accessed by all learners?

The representation principle in UDL is concerned with how we recognise and make sense of information. Not everyone accesses and makes sense of information in the same way. Providing multiple ways for accessing content and undertaking tasks is essential.

Take a minute to think about how you already present information.

Now let’s take a closer look at some of the ways you can present information in your classroom.

Choosing strategies to support representation

Think of your students and what might be needed so that everyone will be able to access information.

Each of the strategies below offers ways to support representation. The list is not exhaustive — rather it’s a sample of ideas to get you thinking about what you do already and what you could do differently.

Explore the strategies by viewing the videos and reading the descriptions. When you find a strategy that will work in the {{ other || plan }} you are planning, click to add it to your inclusive plan.

Providing electronic text to all means that students can adapt it to suit them best – they can increase the magnification, change the colour or style of font, highlight and check unfamiliar words, save text and refer to it again later, and hear text read aloud.

Electronic texts can also provide additional support for group reading and discussion – for example, by displaying a text on a smart board and highlighting a particular teaching focus.

Watch this video of Katrina, a secondary school student, explaining how teachers’ instructions help her learning.

When you give instructions orally, also provide a visual chart explaining the steps of what should happen. Use graphic organisers, concept charts, and visual brainstorms to share information with students.

This provides clarity for students who find oral instructions difficult to follow, and it gives the whole class a prompt that can be used for time management throughout the lesson. You can also refer to the visual organiser as the lesson progresses.

There are a wide range of visual supports that can be used effectively within the classroom. They can be made using real objects, photos, pictures, symbols, written words, or a combination of these, depending on the needs of your students. If possible, make them with students. This will give them greater ownership of the tool and increase their independence in the task.

This pdf guide outlines the importance of visual schedules and why you might create them.

The Choiceworks app provides schedule boards, feeling boards, and waiting boards with a range of images and a download option. Go to Bee Visual for more information.

VoiceThread allows teachers to create a visual presentation with an accompanying voice commentary. You can circle and highlight important features on the images in real-time, supported by your vocal comments.

VoiceThread, and other similar applications, allow teachers to provide information to students using written, visual, and auditory information either within the class or out of class time.

Pre-teaching sets students up for success and can be used to hook them into the learning. This is a useful strategy for everyone, especially students with additional learning needs and English language learners.

Pre-teaching can take the form of a brief activity (up to five minutes) with the whole class at the beginning of a lesson. The task ‘sets the scene’ and covers key vocabulary and ideas that students will come across in the lesson.

Purposefully set up and refer to a subject-specific glossary. This might be a shared Google doc or an editable webpage that all students can access all the time.

Popplet is an excellent site that allows students to create a ‘wall’ for relevant links, videos, websites, text, and audio. The walls can be shared between students, small groups can collaborate to create one, or the whole class can feed into the same wall.

Alternatively, the teacher can use a Popplet wall as a project centre – for example, to share with the class links to the task, success criteria, relevant videos, and exemplars of past student work.

Watch this tutorial for a brief introduction to how Popplet can be used in education:

Padlet is a similar product.

Students also benefit from hearing content.

Provide options for students to listen to audio files (such as podcasts) on a topic instead of reading material about it.

For example, look at this list of possible podcasts to incorporate into an English lesson. Use podcast directories such as Stitcher and Learn Out Loud to locate subject-specific audio content.

This article outlines the experience of one teacher using a podcast transcript alongside the podcast to impact on literacy.

Using conversation to unpack a text after reading and before responding helps students to comprehend information.

The jigsaw technique is a classroom activity in which information is broken down into smaller amounts and students depend on one other to succeed. Groups of up to four students discuss a different section of a larger text. Then new groups are formed with an ‘expert’ on every section, and, in discussion, the group builds an understanding of the complete text.

Learning circles are a useful way to create knowledge-building dialogue between learners. To begin a circle, a talking piece is used to explore individual participants’ understanding and thoughts about the topic, concept, or problem. Everyone contributes their own knowledge to the group’s whole vision so that a collaborative understanding is achieved and leadership distributed.

Providing a model or visual of what is expected from students can help them plan and manage their learning, monitor their progress, and generate and express their own ideas.

This can include:

  • providing exemplars of other students’ work
  • using a ‘gallery walk’ (for example, while an activity is underway, have students walk around the room to view their peers’ work)
  • sharing models of completed work that annotate and explain significant aspects
  • asking the students about the model or visual: ‘What is it? What is it not?’
  • providing a checklist of what’s expected (for example, to help scaffold report writing, a checklist might include ‘Does your report have an introduction, a title’ and so on).

Introducing an upcoming concept or topic ahead of the lesson triggers prior learning and background knowledge. For example, ensure that students can access a relevant podcast, video, or film at home so they are aware of what will happen in class next.

This practice, sometimes called ‘flipped learning’, moves some of the instructional content out of school, freeing up lesson time for collaborative work.

Turning text to speech and speech to text allows students to navigate the text in the format that suits them best and is an excellent strategy for increasing comprehension and engagement.

There are a number of text-to-speech web apps that increase the accessibility of text. Chrome Vox, for example, is a free web app for use with Google Chrome.

NV Access (Non-Visual access) provides a free, open-source reader for full navigation of a computer, right from the desktop. This provides those with low or no vision with a way to access computers.