Carnegie Mellon University

Eberly Center

Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation

Provide multiple means of representation

Students in your classroom are diverse in ways that are both visible and invisible. For instance, some students may have issues processing written words, either because of a learning disability or because English is their second language, and would benefit from verbal explanations. Copious research demonstrates that strategic use of visual images, in addition to text, can enhance learning of concepts. Research has shown that all students benefit from multiple means of representation to create and encode meaning (Ainsworth, 1999; Mayer, 2001; Meyer et al., 2014).

  • Make your content accessible by posting slides and notes on Canvas, using formats that are compatible with accessibility technology (including but not limited to pdf).
  • Employ a range of media to enhance learning (text, images, videos, diagrams, animations, etc.).
  • Make sure to use alt text to describe images in your online Learning System Management, and use videos with subtitles.
  • To make digital educational materials accessible to all learners, follow the principles outlined in this handout.


Ainsworth, S. (1999). The functions of multiple representations. Computers & Education, 33(2), 131-152.

Mayer, R. E. (2001). Multimedia learning. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Meyer, A., Rose, D. H., & Gordon, D. T. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and practice. CAST Professional Publishing.  (tons of references within this text)

GO TO:  Universal Design for Learning