ARC Universal Design Checklist

Diverse group of students sitting around a table working on their mobile devices

Universal Design Checklist

Home » Universal Design at ARC » ARC Universal Design Checklist

There is a lot to know about the who, what, and why of universal design, but they all rest on the principle of varying our classrooms to meet the varied needs of our student. You can learn more about these models on our Universal Design at ARC page. This page is our Universal Design Checklist and provides you a quick guide on the how of universal design. Click on each of the drop-down arrows and questions below for a quick summary of how to build universal design into your practice.

  • One essential component of universal design is accessibility. If you’d like to ensure accessibility in your practice, visit the ARC Accessibility Checklist page.

Remember that universal design is not prescriptive; it allows for instructional faculty to use their expertise in creating learning experiences for students, while practicing principles of design that will facilitate success for all students. This is not meant to be an inclusive, definitive list of “best practices” for instructional faculty – it is means to be a way to reflectively evaluate your practice for principles of universal design.

Do you present content in varied ways?

Do not just present information in one format; rather present information to students in multiple formats to allow for their varied interests and needs. Include:

Written & Readable

  • organized
  • “chunking” of relevant information
  • grade level writing
  • scaffolded supports built in:
    • graphic organizers
    • notes
    • study guides
    • other as needed


  • alt-text, long descriptions, and alternate formats provided (when necessary)
  • words in the image are included in alt-text or long description
  • images are used in support of written content
    • context is provided for students to understand relevance

Audio Content

  • transcripts provided for audio content, when different from written information.
  • speak slowly and clearly
  • add pauses
  • make content downloadable (when possible)

Video Content

  • accurate, synchronous captions are present
  • speak slowly and clearly
  • add pauses
  • read any content visible on the screen
  • make content downloadable (when possible)

Do you allow students variable ways to demonstrate learning?

Students have varied skillsets and abilities. Allowing students options to demonstrate learning will allow them to succeed in achieving your objectives using those skillsets and experiences.

  • Offer varied format submission options:
    • Written
    • Screencast
    • Audio / Video submissions
    • Infographics
  • Provide scaffolded support
  • Share examples of successful student submissions (when possible)
  • Require apps and other software that allows for accessible functionality (e.g. keyboard shortcuts)
  • Support executive functioning by:
    • identifying objectives
    • providing scaffolds to support success, such as study guides, notes, and checklists
    • including clear instructions for all assessments and assignments
    • establishing short and long term goals/due dates
    • promote self-reflection and monitoring
    • offer templates and examples
  • Offer progressive levels of challenge in learning, building upon concepts for deeper learning
  • Create authentic assessments with personal and real world significance
    • Encourage creative thinking
    • Be open to unique solutions
  • Reduce distractions by highlighting essential information and labeling extraneous information
  • Promote creative thinking and assessment

Do you allow students the opportunity to demonstrate growth and improvement?

If the goal is for students to demonstrate mastery of content, provide:

  • a rubric upfront for students to see your expectations
  • opportunity for draft submissions prior to the due date
  • check-ins for students to request feedback
  • offer in-class peer-to-peer collaboration and/or review prior to due date
  • helpful feedback for students to demonstrate mastery after submission
  • opportunities for them to resubmit after receiving your feedback
  • late submission windows

Do you promote community within your classroom?

Community is an important part of universal design as well as promoting equity in our classrooms. How do you build community in your classroom?

  • Create opportunities for relationship building.
  • Encourage discussion of current events.
  • Incorporate culture into lessons and activities whenever possible.
  • Model appropriate sharing and engagement with your students during activities of learning.
  • Utilize small and large group activities during class (in-person and virtually).
  • Develop class norms and reinforce throughout the semester.
  • Encourage student learning groups (in and outside of class time).

Do you engage in a process of reflection and review of your class practices and content?
  • Anticipate the possible barriers that your students might face in access.
    • Educate yourself on the varied needs of students with disabilities.
    • Educate yourself on the varied needs of community college students.
    • Educate yourself on the varied needs of students disproportionally impacted by institutional barriers.
  • Anticipate the possible barriers that your students might face in demonstrating mastery.
    • Identify the scaffolded supports that your varied students might need.
    • Check in with your students that are falling behind or struggling academically.
    • Solicit feedback from students regarding their needs.
  • Solicit feedback from students regarding input on assignments or course design.
  • Evaluate student outcomes and use data to guide your course design and redesign.
    • Use college DI data.
    • Use Canvas course data.
    • Use student feedback survey data.
    • Use faculty student and peer evaluation feedback.

If you would like one-on-one support from the ITC, our Universal Design and Accessibility Coordinator, Lori Hokerson, is here to help! You can reach out directly at or (916) 484-8162.

You can also contact the ITC anytime at

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