In the research literature, particularly from the USA and Canada, there is a strong recurring narrative: e-learning experiences and resources are inaccessible to disabled students and the solution to this problem is Universal Design or teaching academics about Universal Design (e.g. Tandy & Meacham, 2009 ; Graves et al., 2011 ; Judge & Floyd, 2011 ). What strikes me about these narratives are the resounding silences. Proponents of universal design rarely offer satisfactory detailed examples of how universal design might be applied to e-learning in practice or provide or critique any credible evidence that universal design is effective. Opponents of universal design on the other hand choose to engage with just the superfi cial popular ‘rhetoric’ of universal design, but rarely examine in depth the broader detail of the universal design approach. In doing so, they fail to appreciate that they are not necessarily on polarised sides of the debate. In this chapter, I will provide an overview of how universal design in education has been defi ned and applied in e-learning in higher education contexts. I will examine the evidence

that universal design is effective and critically evaluate the debates that exist around different approaches to designing accessible e-learning.