Review Article

Universal design for learning in inclusive education policy in South Africa

Judith A. McKenzie, Elizabeth M. Dalton
African Journal of Disability | Vol 9 | a776 | DOI: | © 2020 Judith A. McKenzie, Elizabeth M. Dalton | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 06 July 2020 | Published: 15 December 2020

About the author(s)

Judith A. McKenzie, Department of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
Elizabeth M. Dalton, Department of Communicative Disorders, Faculty of Health Sciences, Dalton Education Services International, University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island, United States of America


Background: South Africa has undertaken the implementation of inclusive education as a vehicle for achieving enhanced educational outcomes and equity. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an instructional design framework that takes into account the wide range of variations in skills and abilities that exist across all learners, and provides a research-based set of principles and guidelines for inclusive curriculum development and delivery.

Objectives: To locate UDL within the specific inclusive education policy context of South Africa and consider how this approach can support policy implementation. We have argued that UDL could serve as a strategy to link policy imperatives with classroom practice, enabling effective communication between the different actors.

Method: We reviewed fundamental inclusive education policies in South Africa and research relating to their implementation, and how they configure support and curriculum differentiation. We then compared this understanding with that proposed by UDL and considered what could be gained in adopting a UDL framework.

Results: We noted that UDL has several advantages in that it allows for a common language between education stakeholders and gives new meaning to the interpretation of levels of support.

Conclusion: The implementation of inclusive education in South Africa could be enhanced by introducing the concepts of UDL into policy, research and teaching practice as a common language and vehicle for packaging support systems.


inclusive education; universal design for learning; South Africa; education policy; implementation


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Crossref Citations

1. Universal Design for Learning for Children with ADHD
Alessandro Frolli, Francesco Cerciello, Clara Esposito, Maria Carla Ricci, Rossana Pia Laccone, Fabio Bisogni
Children  vol: 10  issue: 8  first page: 1350  year: 2023  
doi: 10.3390/children10081350