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Call for Proposals: The 8th Annual CAST UDL Symposium

Learner Voice

Universal Design for Learning is founded on, and committed to, the fight for educational equity, until learning has no limits. At CAST, we believe true equity must involve the power of the voices of our learners. This year’s Symposium is designed to amplify those voices, particularly those who have been most marginalized by traditional educational systems. Learners’ voices must be lifted and made central to how we engage, teach, and assess learners, because each and every voice enriches learning for all.

We hope you can raise the level of discourse and support participants to move beyond student-centered learning to learner-driven education. Understanding the learner experience should be a non-negotiable part of all we do. We also hope you would model your work by inviting learners to present with you at the Symposium!

All proposals are due by Friday, January 14, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. (PST). The Symposium will be held online & on-demand July 27 – 29, 2022.

Conference Goals

By engaging in virtual sessions that encourage innovative ideas, systemic thinking, and application of theory to practice, participants will:

  • Imagine radical new ways to include learner voice in all aspects of their education across the lifespan.
  • Explore how assessments, post-secondary planning, and UDL implementation could include learner voice.
  • Be inspired to experiment with and implement new systems for empowering learners.
  • Examine ways in which we may unconsciously support systems that disadvantage or exclude certain students, and learn how learner voice can build racial and cultural equity.
  • Challenge their own assumptions about teaching, instruction, and learning.
  • Imagine innovative policies and practices for lifting up student voice in their work (no matter the context), and understanding student voice as the most necessary foundation of positive educational systemic change.

Proposal Information

We are seeking a diverse group of facilitators who will offer thought-provoking sessions, extending the discussion beyond introductory UDL content and deeply examining this year’s theme of Learner Voice. We encourage you to share your latest research, unique practices, unexpected successes, and persistent challenges. We encourage you to include your learners as presenters as much as possible either through co-presenting, videos, or artifacts. Questions we hope to explore include:

  • How can learner voice support social-emotional development and how can SEL support learner voice?
  • How do learner voice and racial/cultural equity interact with each other?
  • How can we use technology to support learner voice?
  • How can we include learner voice in assessments?
  • How can we encourage and support student self-advocacy and self-determination in transition and post-transition?
  • Where does learner voice fit into institution-wide UDL implementation?
  • How does learner voice lead to expert learning?
  • How do we address learner voice with adult learners? Are there different strategies? Different goals? Does it look/feel/act different?

Do you have another idea? As always, we hope to learn from you, so please submit a proposal to help us learn more about the ways in which UDL can be creatively used to design the future.

Target Facilitators

CAST always looks for a diversity of viewpoints. This year we hope to offer sessions run by all of the following:

  • Facilitators from schools/campuses/institutions who are running authentic and immersive student-led programs.
  • Youth Action-Researchers and youth activists.
  • Youth leaders and community activists, as well as the adults who support them.
  • Facilitators who have changed the mindset away from teaching students how to code-switch to teaching adults how to celebrate multiple cultures, values, and viewpoints.
  • Researchers who study learner agency and its effects.
  • Learners who design their own assessments and the educators who support them.
  • Educators who have found scaleable and reproducible methods for including student voice.

Symposium Attendees

Symposium attendees include educators working both inside and outside of classrooms, including teachers, professors, administrators, curriculum designers, technology leaders, specialists, advocacy groups, workforce trainers, activists, researchers, parents, and more. 

Session Formats

Please be aware, this Symposium will be completely virtual. You may either facilitate a live synchronous session or prepare an asynchronous session.

  • Live and Synchronous
    • Live Interactive Workshops: All live synchronous sessions will be 60 minutes in length. Of this hour, we expect at least 30 minutes will include participant interaction. New content paired with generative discourse through breakout rooms, chat discussions, live written collaboration, or full-group conversations. 
    • Panel Discussion: Panel discussions should include two or more learner voices. We ask for facilitators to be explicit about the types of questions they will develop themselves and about what percentage of questions, if any, will come from the live audience.
    • Design Lab: Hands-on sessions where participants create usable plans and/or products.  
  • Asynchronous Recorded 
    • Module: Asynchronous modules can take any structure you like. Any recorded video component can be as short as you like or up to 60 minutes (but no longer). Although interactions can be more difficult to facilitate asynchronously, we invite you to create backchannel communication using Flipgrid, social media, surveys, Google Docs, Padlet, etc. 
    • Ed Talk: 20-minute asynchronous recorded session.
  • Other: If you have a unique idea you’d like to try in this virtual setting, please let us know! We are interested in continuing to expand our own toolbox.

Session Facilitator Responsibilities

We ask session facilitators to agree to the following expectations:

  • Accepted facilitators of live interactive workshops will receive 15% off of registration (with up to 2 co-facilitators per session). The co-facilitator(s) must be listed on the submission form.  Unfortunately, we are unable to offer discounts to facilitators of asynchronous recorded sessions. 
  • Facilitators agree to add all session materials to the public schedule no later than July 1, 2022. These materials may include:
    • Slides
    • Digital handouts
    • Videos
    • Web links
    • Any other needed materials
    Please note: Unfortunately, facilitators who are unable to upload their materials by July 1, 2022, will be dropped from the schedule.
  • Facilitators agree to make all materials (slides, handouts, video, etc.) and interactions accessible and inclusive (the CAST Symposium Team will provide guidance).

Deadlines & Notifications

Deadline for proposal submissions is Friday, January 14, 2022, at 11:59 p.m. (PST. You will be notified whether your proposal has been selected in mid-February.

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.

Online Proposal Submission Form

Acceptance Criteria

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

  • Relevance to Theme: Does the proposal clearly and substantially connect to the Symposium theme? (Yes or No. A proposal that does not connect clearly and substantially to the theme will not be considered.)
  • Learner Voice
    • Does the proposal offer innovative, high-impact, and/or proven methods for including learner voice? (3 points)
    • Will learners be represented in the session? (3 points)
    • Does the session encourage voice from the participants? (3 points)
  • Universal Design for Learning
    • Does the proposal articulate a clear, challenging session goal? (2 points)
    • Does the proposal clearly explain how the design of the session anticipates and reduces potential barriers to participants achieving the session goal? (2 points)

Session Tags

We are looking for proposals that represent a wide variety of content areas and age levels. Please be aware applications will be judged not only on the scores from the rubric above, but will also be chosen to ensure we have the widest representation of topics possible. To this end, please choose one primary tag that best represents the topic on which you will be presenting, and as many sub-tags as appropriate.

Session Tags

  • SEL
  • Racial/Cultural/Language Equity
  • Technology
  • Assessment
  • Research
  • Special Education/Transition
  • Schoolwide Implementation


  • Pre-K
  • Elementary
  • Middle/High
  • Postsecondary
  • Workforce
  • Professional Development


We know cost can be a barrier to participation, so CAST is committed to working with accepted session facilitators to reduce this barrier by offering a limited number of financial scholarships. We will send out financial aid applications along with acceptance letters.

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