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    Call for Proposals: The 6th Annual CAST UDL Symposium


    UDL Rising: Designing for Equity

    August 5 – 7, 2020
    Cambridge, MA

    Proposals are due Monday, February 10, 2020, by 11:59 pm ET via the

    The Universal Design for Learning framework was designed as a lever for change, one that addresses the inequities inherent in a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Indeed, early advocates regarded UDL implementation as a civil-rights initiative, one that would give people with disabilities full access to learning opportunities.

    But in recent years, a larger conversation has emerged as to whether and how UDL should intentionally address the many barriers—systemic and individual—that limit learning for all. These barriers include racism, poverty, gender inequality, cultural biases, and more. We are committed to advancing this larger conversation and exploring in greater depth the ways in which UDL can be leveraged to make more equitable learning environments and opportunities for students who have traditionally been marginalized.

    The 6th Annual CAST UDL Symposium, UDL Rising: Designing for Equity, will explore questions such as:

    • Can learning be Universally Designed without specifically addressing systemic barriers that perpetuate inequities?
    • Does the UDL framework need to identify ways to dismantle institutionalized inequities?
    • How can the UDL framework become a powerful tool for designing equitable learning experiences without limits? What does learning without limits actually look like?
    • By widening the scope of how UDL defines equity, do we end up watering down its power for students with disabilities?

    The Symposium will highlight promising work that is taking place in the field and will also serve as a forum to co-create a vision for how to more explicitly develop UDL as a framework for designing equitable learning opportunities for all.

    Submit your proposal today! Proposals are due Monday, February 10, 2020, by 11:59 pm ET.

    Goals for the 2020 Symposium

    By engaging in sessions designed to inspire exploration and encourage critical conversations, participants will explore the intersections of UDL and equity. Join us, and you will leave with:

    • A better understanding of what designing for equity can look like and steps you can take to design and promote more equitable and inclusive learning in your own settings;
    • A stronger commitment to confronting inequity in our classrooms, schools, workplaces, and communities;
    • New thoughts on how to leverage UDL to promote equity and inclusion.

    Finally, it is our hope that we come together as a community to articulate next steps for more explicitly developing the UDL framework through an equity lens.

    Proposal Information

    We are seeking a diverse group of facilitators who will offer thought-provoking sessions, extending the discussion beyond introductory UDL content and examining this year’s theme of designing for equity in depth. We encourage you to share your research, practices, successes, challenges, and critiques. Questions we hope to explore include:

    • How does UDL support students with developmental disabilities in inclusive settings and what are the barriers that still need to be addressed? What is the role that UDL should play in environments that segregate students with disabilities?
    • In what ways can UDL enhance and strengthen existing strategies for identifying and addressing inequities (e.g. Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies, Restorative Justice, Trauma-Informed Practices, etc.)? What adjustments to the current Guidelines might ensure a better alignment with these widely used strategies?
    • What are the ways that UDL can be further developed to impact the institutional and systemic barriers that marginalize learners?
    • How can we expand our thinking to accommodate multiple perspectives on the variables that limit learning?
    • How can UDL both shine a light on the inequities that limit our learners and be the solution that inspires learning without limits?
    • What if I am the barrier?
    • What does it look like to design learning without limits?

    Do you have another idea? We are hoping to learn from you, so please submit a proposal to help us learn more about the ways in which the UDL principles, guidelines, and practices can or should influence and support more equitable learning environments for all.

    Target Audience

    The target audience for the Symposium includes educators (general and special education, early childhood, K-12, higher education, career and technical) working both inside and outside of classrooms, including teachers, administrators, curriculum designers, technology leaders, specialists, advocacy groups, workforce trainers, activists, researchers, parents, and more.

    Session Formats

    There are several session options described below. If you choose to submit more than one proposal, please create a separate submission for each. Individuals will be considered for no more than two proposals.

    • 40-minute Interactive Workshop: This format engages participants in a rich exploration of the topic through practical application, discussion, protocols, or group interaction for the majority of the session. Participants are supported to play an active role in making meaning and connecting to their own contexts.
    • 90-minute Interactive Workshop: This format provides even more time to engage participants in an inquiry-based exploration of the topic that supports participants to construct their own learning and connect to their own contexts. We encourage you to get creative by facilitating a panel discussion, involving participants in an activity, moderating a case study, organizing a debate, and more.
    • Poster Exhibit (Digital or Paper-Based): This format provides an opportunity to share current implementation progress, successes, research findings, and lessons learned through a multimedia format. It also allows presenters to engage in conversation with a wide variety of participants.
    • Other: If you have another idea or option that you prefer, please let us know.

    Session Facilitator Responsibilities

    We ask session facilitators to agree to the following expectations:

    • Accepted Facilitators of 40- and 90-minute interactive workshop sessions will receive 10% off of registration (up to 3 facilitators per session). Each co-facilitator must be listed on the submission form. Unfortunately, we are unable to offer discounts to Poster Exhibit facilitators.
    • Facilitators are responsible for their own transportation and accommodations.
    • Facilitators agree to add session materials to the public schedule by July 31, 2020. These materials may include:
      • Slides
      • Handouts
      • Videos
      • Web links
      • Any other needed materials
    • Facilitators agree to make all materials (slides, handouts, video, etc.) and in-person interactions accessible and inclusive (the CAST Symposium Team will provide guidance).

    Deadlines & Notifications

    The deadline for proposal submissions is Monday, February 10, 2020, by 11:59 pm ET. You will be notified of whether or not your proposal has been selected in mid-March.

    Please note that we plan to accept fewer proposals for the 2020 Symposium and expect the review process to be significantly more competitive than in previous years!

    Proposal Submission

    Please note: Our submission form was created using SurveyGizmo. You will not be able to save your work to complete over multiple sessions. We have created a preview of the form to help you prepare your proposal prior to beginning the submission process. Proposal submissions will only be accepted via the online submission form.

    Acceptance Criteria

    Proposals will be reviewed to ensure that they address the following criteria:

    • Does the proposal clearly connect to the Symposium theme, UDL Rising: Designing for Equity?
    • Does the proposal reveal evidence of a deep understanding of equity and the systems that support it?
    • Does the proposal articulate a clear, challenging session goal that directly addresses questions of equity?
    • Does the proposal clearly explain how the design of the session anticipates potential barriers to participants achieving the session goal? In particular, does the design explicitly address issues of equity for Symposium participants who attend the session?
    • Does the proposal clearly explain how the design of the session will minimize barriers to the goal?
    • Does the proposal clearly explain how the design of the session will gather evidence to determine whether participants achieve the goals of the session?


    We recognize that the conference registration fees and travel expenses may pose a barrier to including all voices. In response, CAST is earmarking funds to provide fellowships to as many participants as possible. (Financial details are forthcoming and will be shared as soon as possible.) A CAST Symposium Fellow will attend the Symposium at a reduced cost and will have an opportunity to facilitate or co-facilitate a session, serve on a panel, and/or contribute to the conversation in other creative ways.

    If the cost of the Symposium has kept your voice out of the discussion in the past, we invite you to apply to be a Fellow by completing our . Priority will be given to people from communities that have traditionally been marginalized. Our goal is to make the Symposium a better conversation than it would be without these voices. The deadline for submission is Monday, February 10, 2020, by 11:59 pm ET.

    Each application will be reviewed by a committee of CAST staff. Final decisions will be made during the proposal review process and communicated to applicants by Thursday, April 9.

    We recognize this Fellowship opportunity removes a barrier for some but not all people. CAST is committed to growing this opportunity as much as possible over time. If you or your organization would like to help support the UDL Symposium Fellowship, please be in touch with Susan Shapiro. Thank you.

    The CAST Fellowship model is modeled after the Digital Pedagogy Lab Fellowship. Thank you to our colleagues at DPL.


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