Universal instructional design (UID) builds on the concept of universal design and applies it directly to the classroom; teaching, learning, and evaluation are designed to apply to students with diverse characteristics.
Proponents of universal instructional design have recognized that UID applies to students who come from a wide variety of backgrounds, including race, ethnicity, and country of origin that help make up the diverse tapestry of the university environment. In the US, English is the second—or third— or fourth—language of some students. Students also bring other diverse characteristics including sex, sexual orientation, learning styles, and physical, psychological, and emotional characteristics and backgrounds.
Increasing numbers of students with disabilities are choosing college and other post-secondary education. The application of UID can increase the educational effectiveness, reduce work, and increase inclusiveness without compromising academic standards or diminishing student expectations. In fact, research suggests that universal instructional design enhances the learning of all students. In addition, the international community and the US federal government have recently initiated efforts to promote universal instructional design (UID) to enhance education for people with disabilities.