2017 UDL Symposium Call for Proposals

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UDL for Social Justice:
Using Universal Design for Learning to Educate Underserved Learners


Providing high quality education is a matter of social justice, and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is an innovative framework that supports all learners –regardless of socioeconomic, cultural, gender, language, cognitive, physical, and emotional background— by providing exceptional, rigorous learning opportunities. UDL proactively infuses opportunities for learners to overcome barriers and ensure that learning has no limits.

Goals for the 2017 UDL Symposium

During the 2017 UDL symposium, we will focus on the intersection of UDL and social justice in order to cross-pollinate ideas that will make both disciplines stronger.  Attendees will leave with a deeper understanding of how to use UDL to educate underserved learners, new philosophical ideas from which to design for social justice, concrete plans to put into action, and networks of educators who will unite to ensure that learning has no limits.

We look forward to hearing about your ideas, research, and past successes!
  • Explore what the term “social justice” means in the field of education;
  • Show how the UDL guidelines can be used to close the achievement gap;
  • Consider how UDL can support disenfranchised students;
  • Discuss how to use UDL to disrupt the school-to-prison pipeline;
  • Explore implicit bias as it relates to teaching through UDL;
  • Demonstrate how to provide curriculum access to students with social emotional needs;
  • Share your relevant research of UDL and social justice;
  • Share your vision for next steps in the field of UDL for social justice;
Do you have something else? We are hoping to learn from you, so please submit a proposal to help us learn about the intersection of UDL and social justice! 

Target Audience

The target audience for the symposium includes educators (both general and special, both PreK-12 and higher ed), administrators, curriculum designers, technology leaders, specialists, advocacy groups, activists, researchers, and more.

Presentation Formats

We are seeking presentations that are thought-provoking and extend discussion beyond introductory UDL content. Unfortunately, we cannot accept any proposals that do not explicitly model UDL. Please let us know how you intend to model UDL as part of your proposal (for example, if you have a 10 minute lecture-style presentation, how are you also offering options for representation, action & expression, and engagement?). If you are coming to us from the social justice field and need support in doing this, we will be happy to work with you.
There are several presentation options described below. If you have another idea or option that you prefer, please let us know. If you choose to submit more than one proposal, please use a separate application for each. Individuals will be considered for no more than two proposals.
  • UDLSpotlight: These briefs follow the model of TED Talks (generally around 18 minutes for the entire presentation) and are focused on inspiring a singular idea rather than discussing a particular topic. Because these presentation types are so fast-paced, we will request additional options for access as well (such as a bulleted summary, PowerPoint, etc.).
  • Breakout Session: Breakout sessions are approximately 50-90 minutes and will have minimal presentation (less than 10 minutes) and then offer approximately 40-80 minutes for practical application, discussion, or interaction.
  • Digital or Interactive Poster Sessions. This format provides an opportunity to share current implementation progress, success, and lesson learned through a multimedia format. It also offers opportunity to share research in more of a science-fair style manner. It’s an excellent way to interact with a wide variety of people in a conversational manner.
  • Other suggestion for a session. Please suggest a new format that you prefer to use for a session that can fit within a time allotment (generally increments of 50 minutes).
Note: Final materials for the symposium need to be prepared by July 1, 2017 and submitted to CAST. These will be made available to participants during the symposium.
Deadline for proposals is February 15, 2017.

Final Notes

You will be notified of whether or not your proposal has been selected no later than March 1, 2017. Successful applications align content to goals at a deep/high level, and demonstrate the potential to model and exemplify UDL.

The Symposium will be held from July 31, 2017 – August 2, 2017 in Boston, MA at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Presenters are responsible for their travel and will receive a discounted registration.