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CAST's 4th Annual UDL Symposium: Call for Proposals


Share how you empower learners in your learning environment. Submit your proposal today!

Proposals are due Thursday, March 1, 2018 by 11:59pm ET.
Please see our 4th Annual UDL Symposium event page for more information.

The teacher is of course an artist, but being an artist does not mean that he or she can make the profile, can shape the students. What the educator does in teaching is to make it possible for the students to become themselves.

Paulo Freire, We Make the Road by Walking:
Conversations on Education and Social Change

As stakeholders within the field of education, we are uniquely positioned to support learners to become empowered. We can create opportunities for learners to develop their autonomy by making informed choices and by constructing their own understandings and interpretations. We can facilitate experiences that support learners to develop the specific practices, habits of mind, and dispositions that allow them to engage and develop confidence in particular content areas. And finally, we can inspire learners to critically examine the world around them by creating space to question structures of power, to fight for social change, and to articulate—and act on—personal hopes and dreams.

At CAST, we believe that Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is one way to design learning experiences that are empowering for all learners. UDL is an innovative framework that seeks to expand learning opportunities for diverse learners, regardless of socioeconomic, cultural, gender, language, cognitive, physical, and/or emotional background. By reducing barriers and increasing opportunities to access and participate in challenging learning experiences, UDL has the potential to support learners to find their voices and, as Freire puts it, “to become themselves.” 

Goals for the 2018 Symposium

This year’s Symposium is an opportunity to come together as a community to explore the promise of UDL for empowering learners. By engaging in sessions designed to encourage critical conversations, problem-solving, and hands-on exploration, participants will consider empowerment through a UDL lens. Participants will leave with a deeper understanding of the important role empowerment plays in learning and with concrete examples of ways to leverage UDL for these critical aims. Further, it is our intention that this Symposium will serve to empower participants themselves. We hope that participants will leave with the confidence and the motivation to apply their learning to their practice—and with a new network of colleagues to encourage and support their efforts.

Proposal Information

We seek a diverse group of presenters who will offer thought-provoking sessions that extend discussion beyond introductory UDL content and examine this year’s theme in depth. We encourage you to share your research, your examples, your successes, and your challenges. Possible proposal topics may include:

  • Exploring the notion of empowerment and why it is so critical to UDL and to learning more broadly
  • Sharing examples and findings from practice that highlight how UDL can be leveraged to empower diverse learners. We encourage you to also weave in transparency around the processes, decisions, and/or tensions behind these examples and findings. For example:
    • Developing learners’ agency by making choices and by constructing their own understandings and interpretations
    • Supporting learners to develop specific practices, habits of mind, and dispositions that allow them to gain access to particular content areas
    • Inspiring learners to critically examine and improve the world around them
  • Exploring how UDL can empower learners from historically non-dominant communities—students of color, students with disabilities, English language learners, incarcerated youth, etc.
  • Exploring how UDL can be leveraged in non-traditional learning environments to empower learners
  • Exploring how specific technologies can be leveraged through a UDL lens to empower learners
  • Exploring how UDL can empower learners to set and reach career goals
  • Exploring how UDL can empower learners to connect globally

Do you have another idea? We are hoping to learn from you, so please submit a proposal to help us learn more about leveraging UDL to empower learners.

Target Audience

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

Session Formats

There are several session 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 create a separate submission for each. Individuals will be considered for no more than two proposals.

  • Two in One: These sessions will provide the audience with the opportunity to experience two sessions in one. Presenters will submit a proposal for a 20 minute session. These brief sessions follow the model of the “TED Talks” and are designed to explore a focused idea in a concise and engaging way. The CAST Symposium team will then match up two sessions that complement or juxtapose one another in an effort to stimulate dialogue. Each presenter will present for 20 minutes, and a discussant will then facilitate a 15 minute conversation among presenters and audience members. If you have an idea for a session to match up with, please note this in the appropriate space on the submission form.
  • Interactive 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 participants to actively engage in practical application, discussion, or interaction.
  • Digital or Interactive Poster Sessions: This format provides an opportunity to share current implementation progress, successes, research findings, and lessons learned through a multimedia format. It also offers the opportunity to engage in conversation with a wide variety of participants.
  • Other: Please suggest a new format that you prefer to design.

Presenters' Responsibilities

We ask presenters to agree to the following expectations:

  • Up to 2 presenters from a single session will receive a discounted registration.
  • Presenters are responsible for their own transportation and accommodations.
  • Presenters will prepare and submit session materials to CAST by July 1, 2018. These materials will be made available to participants during the Symposium and may include:
    • Slides
    • Handouts
    • Any other needed materials
  • Presenters will add their information to the public schedule by July 1, 2018 (the CAST Symposium Team will provide guidance). This information includes:
    • Headshot
    • Brief biography
    • Session information
    • Any session handouts
  • Presenters agree to include closed captions for any videos presented during their session (the CAST Symposium Team will provide guidance).
  • Presenters agree that their session may be video recorded.

Deadlines & Notifications

Deadline for proposals is March 1, 2018 by 11:59pm ET. You will be notified of whether or not your proposal has been selected no later than April 1, 2018.

Proposal Submission

Proposal Submission Form

Please note: Our submission form was created with Google Forms. You will not be able to save your work in the Google Form 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.