The UDL TOUCHDOWN: Making a play for all learners line up includes leading voices in Universal Design for Learning and EdTech from across the US. Including educators, experts and Texthelpers.

Our keynote speaker is...

Xavier Cooper, Everyone Learns Differently scholarship co-founder and former NFL defensive end

Xavier co-founded the Everyone Learns Differently scholarship. While attending Wilson High School in Tacoma, WA, Xavier’s parents noticed his reading and writing comprehension were minimal, and he learned best through kinesthetic learning - doing, experiencing, moving, or touching. Diagnosed with several learning disabilities, Xavier was soon placed in special ed classes.

Although disinterested in school, Xavier excelled at sports. After graduating, he attended Tacoma Community College and received a football scholarship to Washington State University.

In 2015, Xavier was drafted to the Cleveland Browns. Xavier spent four years in the NFL with stints with the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Jets. In 2016 he finished his Bachelor’s degree in Criminology from Washington State. Xavier hopes that through this scholarship program he can provide inclusivity, mentorship, and financial support to people pursuing some form of higher intelligence.

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Andratesha Fritzgerald, Founder and Lead Consultant of Building Blocks of Brilliance, LLC.

As an international speaker Andratesha Fritzgerald exhibits an audacious perseverance that calls organizations to evolve into inclusive antiracist safe zones for all learners. With over twenty years in education, she has served as a teacher, curriculum specialist, administrator, and director. Her award winning book Antiracism and Universal Design for Learning: Building Expressways to Success (CAST, 2020) has been a catalyst for UDL to ensure safety and radical inclusion in every learning community.

For more information, go to www.buildingblocksofbrilliance.com and  @FritzTesha on Twitter 

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Luis Pérez, Technical Assistance Specialist at CAST

Luis Pérez is a technical assistance specialist at CAST. He holds a doctorate in special education and a master’s degree in instructional technology from the University of South Florida. Luis is a Past-President of the Inclusive Learning Network of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), which named him its 2016 Outstanding Inclusive Educator. He was also recognized with an ISTE Making It Happen! Award in 2020. Other recognitions include Apple Distinguished Educator (2009) and Google Certified Innovator (2014). Luis has published three books on accessibility, mobile learning and UDL: Mobile Learning for All (Corwin Press), Dive into UDL (ISTE) and Learning on the Go (CAST Publishing). He currently serves as an Education and Learning strand advisor for the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA).

Follow Luis on Twitter @eyeonaxs

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Dr. Catlin Tucker, Bestselling Author, International Trainer, and Keynote Speaker

She was named Teacher of the Year in 2010 in Sonoma County, where she taught for 16 years. Catlin earned her doctorate in learning technologies from Pepperdine University. Currently, Catlin is working as a blended learning coach, education consultant, and professor in the Masters of Arts in Teaching program at Pepperdine University. Catlin has written a series of bestselling books on blended learning, which include Balance With Blended LearningBlended Learning In ActionPower Up Blended Learning, and Blended Learning In Grades 4-12.

Follow Catlin on Twitter @Catlin_Tucker and her blog CatlinTucker.com

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Joni Degner, Territory Director at Texthelp

Joni Degner is a trusted voice and recognized leader in the implementation of UDL for schools, districts and institutions of opportunity. Joni is a territory director for Texthelp, supporting schools in Michigan and her homestate, Indiana. She is a dedicated partner to CAST and the UDL-IRN, presenting and keynoting at major summits & symposiumsJoni is passionate about design thinking, Universal Design for Learning, culturally responsive teaching, developmental relationships and equity. Joni is known for her high energy presentation style and practical teaching strategies.

Follow Joni @DegnerJoni

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Tinashe Blanchet, Professional Development Specialist at Texthelp

Tinashe is a former high school math teacher with over 18 years of experience in education and teacher training. She is a Google for Education Certified Innovator and Trainer who has traveled around the United States to train thousands of teachers on using technology to enhance their instruction.Tinashehas built a strong reputation as a skilled communicator and tech-savvy educator and has presented at local, state, national, and international education conferences including ISTE and NCTM. With a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction,Tinashehas also taught pre-service and practicing educators at Tulane University and the University of New Orleans.

Follow Tinashe @msblanchetnet

Dr. Sawsan Jaber, Global Educator and Founder of Education Unfiltered Consulting

Dr. Sawsan Jaber is a global educator, presenter, equity strategist, and keynote speaker of 20+ years. She has held a variety of leadership positions both in the U.S. and abroad.  Dr. Jaber is currently a high school English teacher at East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, IL.  In that role she also serves on the district's Equity and Leadership Committee.  Dr. Jaber founded Education Unfiltered Consulting and works with schools both nationally and internationally.  Sawsan focuses on curriculum mapping, strategic planning, custom tailoring a social justice curriculum for schools, and anti-bias training. She completed her Ph.D. with a focus on inclusion and belonging of students from marginalized communities. Dr. Jaber is a Board Director of Our Voice Alliance (OVA) charged with amplifying the voices of teachers of color to create more equity for students of color.  Additionally, Sawsan is one of the founders of the Arab American Education Network (AAEN).  She is  a member of the International Society for Technology in Education professional learning network (ISTE PLN) Leader.  Dr. Jaber is a National Board Certified teacher and focuses most of her research on engaging students in equity work and advocating for Arab and Muslim students. Among other projects, she is currently working on national and international equity centered projects with Google and the National Board Association.  Dr. Jaber offers the experience of being a member of a minority group as the daughter of refugees from Deir Yasin, Palestine.  Sawsan is a lifelong learner in an ever changing world.  Dr. Jaber has been featured in several conferences and podcasts, and written several blogs, journals, and newsletter publications with the hopes to continue working with educators to empower students to work towards global equity and justice.  She is excited to be in the process of publishing her first co-written book, Teaching In Precarious School Contexts.

Lindsay Jones, CEO of CAST

Lindsay E. Jones is the Chief Executive Officer of CAST, where she works with innovative educators and researchers across the globe to design education systems that are learner-centered, flexible, accessible, and rooted in Universal Design for Learning. Lindsay leads strategy and implementation at CAST to ensure all of CAST's work removes barriers, fosters belonging, and creates equitable education opportunities for every learner. Lindsay previously served as the President and CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) and as the senior director for policy and advocacy at the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). Lindsay began her career as an attorney, advising and representing schools and parents in special education matters.

Lillian Nave, Think UDL Podcast, Senior Lecturer, Faculty Coordinator and UDL Coordinator Appalachian State University

Lillian Nave is a Senior Lecturer in First Year Seminar at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. She is also the VITAL (Visiting, Instructor, Temporary, Adjunct, Lecturer) Faculty Coordinator and UDL Coordinator on campus. Lillian hosts the Think UDL podcast and enjoys the opportunity to talk about UDL with faculty and professionals all over the world.

Follow the Think UDL podcast on Twitter @ThinkUDL or visit thinkudl.org

Brenny Kummer, Assistant Director of Educational Technology for Bartholomew Consolidated Schools

Brenny Kummer is the Assistant Director of Educational Technology for Bartholomew Consolidated Schools in Columbus, Indiana. She is a former middle and high school social studies teacher, graduate of the University of Arkansas Educational Technology Master’s program, and University of Arkansas Educational Tech student of the year in 2022. In her role, she serves as the sole tech coach for her district, trains staff on how to use UDL (Universal Design for Learning) to guide technology integration, supports assistive technologies across the district, and coordinates eLearning. She is a Google domain administrator, Google certified trainer, and LMS system administrator. Brenny has a passion for UDL and experience teaching in a full inclusion setting. She seeks to dismantle learning barriers through technology and provide accessible, inclusive learning environments for all learners. She has presentation experience at various levels: Indiana PATINS Access to Education conference, Indiana HECC conference, Indiana Connected Educators Conference, ISTE, IMS Global, UDL-IRN international summit, UDL-IRN Great Lakes, UDL-CAST events, and COSN diversity and inclusion panels.

Follow Fresh BCSC Tech Blog https://freshbcsctech.blogspot.com/ and YouTube https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC-CKkNXzROQgwPT_W0jg1Tw

Follow Brenny Kummer on Twitter @Brenny_Kummer

Nick Williams, Director of Technology Innovation for Bartholomew Consolidated Schools

Nick Williams is the Director of Technology Innovation for Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation and is a Certified Educational Technology Leader (CETL).  Nick was the district's Coordinator of Instructional Technology and led the district through its first LMS adoption and eLearning Days.  Nick has spoken nationally around the importance of using technology through the lens of UDL.  He taught biology for 12 years and taught an educational technology class at Indiana University Purdue University Columbus. Nick Williams is active in the IU Technology Partnershare and a board member of the Indiana CTO Council.

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Gayl Bowser, M.S.Ed., Independent Consultant

Gayl Bowser, M.S.Ed. works as an independent consultant with a focus on the creation of effective, legal and high-quality service systems that encourage the integration of technology into educational programs for students with disabilities.

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Rachel Kruzel, Territory Director at Texthelp

Rachel Kruzel, ATP, is the Territory Sales Director for Texthelp supporting Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, and Missouri. She is a RESNA Certified Assistive Technology Professional. Rachel spent ten years working as an Assistive Technology Specialist in the Disability Resource Offices at colleges and universities in Minnesota. During her time in higher ed, she built and developed assistive technology programs, implemented EdTech across campus, and helped to lead the campus’ digital accessibility initiatives. Rachel is a national expert in the areas of assistive technology, digital accessibility, and implementation of technology to support student learning in higher ed; presenting both regionally and nationally on these topics and others.

Follow Rachel @TH_RachelK

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Loui Lord Nelson, President and Technical Assistance Provider at The UDL Approach

Loui Lord Nelson, Ph.D., is a global leader in UDL implementation. A former special education teacher, she originated the role of UDL Coordinator, completed her post-doctoral fellowship at CAST, and focuses on education in low and middle income countries. Some of her publications include: Design and Deliver: Planning and Teaching Using Universal Design for Learning,Culturally Responsive Design for English Learners: The UDL Approach, and A Tree for All: Your Coloring Book of UDL Principles and Practiceplus the card game, Go Fishing with UDL. She hosts two popular podcasts: UDL in 15 Minutes and UDL Research in 15 Minutes. www.theudlapproach.com.

Follow Loui @LouiLordNelson

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Dr. Paula Kluth, Author, Advocate & Keynote Speaker 

Dr. Paula Kluth is a consultant, author, advocate, and independent scholar who works with teachers and families to provide inclusive opportunities for students with disabilities. She is a former special educator who has served as a classroom teacher and inclusion facilitator. Her professional interests include UDL, co-teaching, and inclusive schooling.

Paula has authored or co-authored over 14 books on inclusive education and UDL including Universal Design Daily"Don't We Already Do Inclusion?": 100 Ideas for Improving Inclusive Schools, and 30 Days to the Co-Taught Classroom.

You can find out more about Paula and contact her on her website: www.inclusionrules.com. Connect with her on Twitter (@PaulaKluth), Facebook, and Instagram.

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Annessia Powell, Grasp Academy

As an experienced principal in Duval County, Annessia Powell strives to close the educational gap for all students and empower them to be partners in their educational careers. In her school, she choices to incorporate assistive technology with the support of her staff into inclusive classrooms allowing students to gain access to the general curriculum. She takes pride in providing her students with the best educational experiences possible. Her professional memberships include Academy of Orton Gillingham Educators and Practitioners, International Dyslexia Association, and the Center for Effective Reading. She also holds a graduate level certification from the University of Florida in Dyslexia.

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Allison Posey, Senior Content Editor & Producer at CAST

Allison participates in the development of content and materials to support the design of learning experiences to reach and engage neurodiverse learners. She leads professional development programs and opportunities to implement Universal Design for Learning and works to integrate current understandings from brain science with instructional practices. Allison is the author of Engage the Brain: How to design for learning that taps into the power of emotion (ASCD, 2018) and Unlearning: Changing your Beliefs and Your Classroom with UDL (CAST Publishing, 2020).

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Dr Liz Berquist, Director of Professional Learning at Baltimore County Public Schools and UDL Coach

Dr. Berquist is an internationally recognized expert in Universal Design for Learning and is the co-author of Your UDL Journey: A Systems Approach to Transforming Instruction (2020) and the editor and author of Universal Design for Learning: From Exploration to Integration (2017). Liz was a member of the original CAST faculty cadre which began in 2010. In this role, she traveled internationally working with school districts and institutes of higher education with a focus on implementation science, coaching, professional learning communities. She has been a frequent presenter at national conferences and was an invited facilitator for the Harvard Graduate School of Education Programs in Professional Education Summer UDL Institute. She has served as a member of the UDL Implementation and Research Network Board of Advisors and the CAST Professional Learning Advisory Council. She is featured in the UDL Series Implementation video, produced by the National Center on Universal Design for Learning.

Follow Liz @Liz_Berquist

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Christopher R. Bugaj, MA CCC‐SLP, founding member of the Assistive Technology Team for Loudoun County Public Schools, Podcast host and Author

Chris co-hosts the Talking With Tech podcast featuring interviews and conversations about augmentative and alternative communication and has hosted The A.T.TIPSCAST; a multi‐award winning podcast featuring strategies to design educational experiences. Chris is the co‐author of The Practical (and Fun) Guide to Assistive Technology in Public Schools published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and has designed and instructed online courses for ISTE on the topics of Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning. Chris is also the author of ATEval2Go, an app for iPad that helps professionals in education perform technology assessments for students. Chris co-authored two chapters for a book published by Brookes Publishing titled Technology Tools for Students with Autism. Chris co‐produced and co‐authored the popular Night Light Stories podcast which features original stories for children of all ages. Chris has presented over 400 live or digital sessions at local, regional, state, national and international events, including TEDx. His latest book The New Assistive Tech: Make Learning Awesome For All, also published by ISTE, is available for order now! Chris is also working with the other presenters on a future book also published by ISTE tentatively titled Inclusive Learning 365.

Follow Chris: @attipscast

Karen Janowski, MS Ed, Inclusive and Assistive Technology Consultant, President and owner of EdTech Solutions, Inc and Author

Based in Reading, MA, EdTech Solutions provides comprehensive AAC and AT Services in the Greater Boston area. Karen presents both locally and nationally on innovative technologies to reach all learners. She is an EdCamp Boston and EdCampAccess organizer, co-moderates #ATchat on Twitter and maintains a blog at http://teachingeverystudent.blogspot.com.  Karen is a co-author of Inclusive Learning 365: EdTech Strategies for Every Day of the Year, scheduled for ISTE publication May 2021. 

Follow Karen: @KarenJan

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Mike Marotta, RESNA Certified Assistive Technology Professional, Director of the Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center at Disability Rights NJ and Author

Mike has been providing direct services to individuals with all disabilities for almost 30 years. and was the 2017 ISTE Inclusive Learning Network Outstanding Educator. Mike is the Director of the Richard West Assistive Technology Advocacy Center at Disability Rights New Jersey, the Federally funded statewide Assistive Technology Act Program. He is a nationally and internationally recognized presenter who was previously a trainer for California State University at Northridge (CSUN), providing practical and in-depth training to professionals interested in specializing in assistive technology. In addition, Mike is an adjunct professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey (NJ) where he teaches Masters level educators in Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning. Mike is also a member of the Faculty at the Center on Technology and Disabilities and presents on an array of topics. Mike serves on both the CAST Accessible Educational Materials and Center on Inclusive Technology and Education Systems (CITES) Advisory Boards. Mike is also the founder of EdcampAccess NJ and co-moderator of the weekly #ATchat Twitter chat.

Follow Mike: @mmatp

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Beth Poss, Speech/Language Pathologist, Educational and Technology Consultant, Former Assistant Principal and Director of Educational Programs for LessonPix and Author

Beth is passionate about designing educational environments that support all students in accessing a rigorous curriculum and meeting educational outcomes. In her work with school districts, universities and national and state level organizations she focuses on how UDL is an essential component in designing equitable and inclusive learning environments. Areas of special interest include the Use of Technology in Early Childhood, Designing Inclusive Learning Environments, Supporting Social-Emotional Learning to Promote Academic Success, and Culturally Responsive Teaching. She is one of the authors of Inclusive Learning 365: EdTech Strategies for Every Day of the Year.

Follow: @possbeth

James Basham, Senior Director for Learning & Innovation at CAST and founder of the Universal Design for Learning - Implementation and Research Network (UDL-IRN)

James D. Basham, Ph.D., is the Senior Director for Learning & Innovation at CAST and founder of the Universal Design for Learning - Implementation and Research Network (UDL-IRN). He is also a Professor at the top-ranked Department of Special Education at the University of Kansas. His research is focused on the implementation of UDL, STEM education, learner-centered design, innovation, and technology in human learning. Some of his most recent work has been on the relationship among UDL and learning space design. He is well published, given hundreds of talks, and serves on various boards for journals, companies, and organizations. Dr. Basham has received and managed over $25 million in external research and development funds.

Steve Nordmark, Director of Business Development at CAST

As CAST’s Director of Business Development, Steve Nordmark builds strategic partnerships throughout the global education field to advance the adoption and implementation of Universal Design for Learning. He focuses on strategic growth opportunities for CAST's products, consultancy services, and membership services, including:

  • Assisting publishers, technology firms, and other constituents infuse their products with inclusive best practices
  • Assisting federal, private, state and local education agencies to identify, acquire, and use inclusive and responsive products and services
  • Advancing quality UDL implementation through the promotion and implementation of Learning Designed and affiliated products and services.

Steve has wide-ranging experience with district, state, federal, and corporate initiatives related to UDL, OER, digital learning, competency-based learning, micro-credentialing, MOOCs, and much more. Previous positions include COO of the UDL-IRN, Chief Academic Officer at Knovation, VP for Solutions Management & Development at netTrekker, VP of Research & Development at Failure Free Reading, and Consulting Manager at Andersen Consulting (“Accenture”).

Steve’s passion is finding ways to intelligently and intentionally leverage technology to increase the effectiveness of teachers and maximize the personalization for learners. Steve has dedicated his career to advancing the conceptual development and implementation of high-value technology solutions for K-12.

It is Steve’s hope that his passion for serving learners and his background in technology, product development, strategic planning, and business development will enable him to create systemic, positive change in learning opportunities for all children.

Follow Steve on Twitter: @snordmark

Tracey Hall, Senior Research Scientist & Instructional Designer at CAST

Dr. Tracey Hall conducts research on instructional interventions in reading, writing, literacy in the content areas, and assessment. Her work includes the design and evaluation of instructional approaches and assessment tools. These experiences are applied to the development and implementation of UDL projects, collaborative partnerships, and professional presentations.

Tracey brings to her work at CAST experience in the areas of curriculum-based measurement, teacher professional development, instruction and curriculum design, and formative assessments using progress monitoring, and data-based decision making for instruction.

She directs CAST's initiatives to create and evaluate digital supported environments across content areas. She is also co- and principal investigator on several federal and foundation-funded grants. Dr. Hall is a frequent presenter and consultant at the national and international education level. She has taught university courses in special education reading and writing, learning disabilities, assessment and behavior management. She has been a special education teacher, consultant, administrator and university professor. With colleagues at CAST, Tracey organized a quilt-making group to make quilts for newborns to members of our CAST of Characters.

Ruth Ziolkowski, OTR, Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Partnerships for The Texthelp Group

Ruth Ziolkowski, OTR is Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Partnerships for The Texthelp Group. Ruth is an Occupational Therapist, a national education leader and speaker. She has acted as liaison between the assessment consortia and Assistive Technology professionals. Ruth is an AEM Center Advisory Committee Member and on the Board of Directors for The Assistive Technology industry Association (ATIA). She has been a strong student advocate for more than 30 years. Most importantly, Ruth cares deeply about supporting kids who learn differently.

Martin McKay, Founder and CEO at Texthelp

Martin founded Texthelp in 1996 to help people with communication difficulties. What started as a company focused on people with profound Speech and Dexterity Disabilities has become a world leading Assistive Technology company creating smart, inclusive software that helps people read, write, express their thoughts and share information more accurately & fluently – across all stages of life. His goal is to make sure that by 2030 Texthelp will have advanced the literacy and understanding of one billion people. 

Martin has spent his work life developing technology for people with disabilities. In the past, he has served on the Assistive Technology Industry Association Board as well as the NIMAS board for the USA Office of Special Education Programs. In 2017, he received the Presidential Award in recognition of lifetime contribution to dyslexia and literacy from the International Dyslexia Association. He is currently serving in an advisory capacity on the Universal Design for Learning council.