UDL and Project-based learning
The 3 principles of universal design for learning are well suited for a project-based learning environment. Many guidelines and suggestions to make learning more accessible to all students are rooted in project-based learning so that often, extra strategies and time put in to universal understanding is minimized. This isn't to say it can be neglected, there will always be students who struggle whatever the teaching style is, but this approach is more open ended and allows for greater student flexibility than a traditional direct instruction method.
Principle 1: Provide multiple means of representation
Students have different ways of understanding information and those with special needs will me more inclined to understand when presented with material in heir own ways. During PBL, there are multiple avenues available to students for comprehending material if a few minor adjustments are made. Some students have learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, and might benefit from a video of a class discussion of a reading. While they struggle to understand the reading, they could miss the reflection. Watching a video of that reflection at home can help fill in some questions they might have had from the reading yet were not able to listen to it in class. The same approach would be useful for English learners as well. For students with sensory disabilities, videos, handouts of audio lessons, among other things, can be used to help with understanding.
Principle 2: Provide multiple means of action and expression
One of the main components of PBL is to present the material to an audience. Due to the voice and choice that students have in PBL, many times they can choose their ideal way of presenting this material. In UDL, this is key because students with special needs have a variety of strengths and weaknesses that are likely more defined than other students. While it is ideal to have students work on both their strengths and weaknesses, students with special needs might not be able to present in more than one or two ways. PBL gives all students a choice in how to present their material and in doing so, assures that all students can participate in the lesson.
Principal 3: Provide multiple means of engagement
All students are motivated to learn in different ways. Some students work best in a spontaneous environment while other students need a strict, guided approach to daily lessons. With a bit of tweaking, PBL can offer both. For the student who thrives with spontaneity, maybe looking at the "need to know" list and asking the class which question they want to answer today would provide that spark. Other students who need order and a strict routine can be given a calendar of each daily objective throughout the project. In either instance, the teacher has prepared both of these in advance and just needs to pick on that is more tailored to the class. Many students enjoy working in groups, and those with special needs benefit from the social interaction group work provides. However, there are those students who cannot work in groups and would much prefer to complete their project alone. PBL is designed to be completed in groups, but it can certainly be completed individually.