UDL & Antiracism SIG

Liz Berquist
Co-Chair
Baltimore County PSD
Baltimore, MD, USA
lizberquist@allined.com 

Rene Sanchez
Co-Chair
Champlain Valley School District
Shelburne, VT, USA
rsanchez@cvsdvt.org

Keisha Smith-Carrington
Co-Chair
Princeton Public Schools
Princeton, NJ, USA
keishasmith@princetonk12.org

About Us

We are a community of educators who are committed to engaging, sustaining and deepening conversations about Universal Design for Learning, anti-racism, and intersectionality.  Anti-racist practices are not limited by geographical borders. We anticipate that this SIG will bring together practitioners from many areas.  This is both a local and global conversation; we have representatives from multiple continents. Each member of this SIG is charged to recognize ways to share this learning with the UDL community and engage additional UDL practitioners and reflect on how to improve UDL practices within an antiracist lens.

Why it is Important

This SIG will specifically focus on Universal Design for Learning and anti-racism in the educational context.  We define anti-racism as actively supporting anti-racist policy through action; action that involves identifying, naming and eliminating oppressive ideologies, practices, structures and systems.  We will work toward the redistribution of voice and power to disrupt predictable outcomes based on race in our education systems.
 
Multiple pieces of legislation define Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as “a scientifically valid framework for guiding educational practice.”  Central to this framework is the ability to name and remove unnecessary barriers to learning. As a SIG, we stay committed to our mission to optimize teaching until learning has no limits.  We recognize that racism and white supremacy cause Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) students and teachers harm and create barriers to learning. This SIG commits to identifying and  addressing the ways in which dominant culture is present in our work as UDL implementers. We commit to looking at the UDL framework with a critical lens as we seek to find the intersection between UDL and anti-racist practice.  
 
This SIG is timely as many in the UDL field have surfaced the fact that UDL does not specifically address the barrier of racism, inequity, and injustice. In order to design learning environments that are truly equitable, we must name this barrier to learning or we will not be able to dismantle oppressive practices.

This SIG Will

  • bring together practitioners who wish to engage in critical dialogue, reflect on and discuss the shifts we have made/must make; 
  • observe our own conversations and interactions for examples of systematic racism within our own organizations; 
  • elevate examples of how we/others are addressing that racism at an individual, organizational and systemic level;
  • create a collective voice within this UDL-focused community.

Our Activities

There is significant power in the UDL framework and the related process of proactively identifying barriers to design, but we recognize that the framework itself is not enough.  This SIG will make space for members to critically analyze their own biases and conceptions about teaching and learning and UDL by exploring a series of topics/questions on a monthly basis. We will work toward identifying ways to share our learning with the UDL community and engage additional UDL practitioners. 

Join Us!

To be added to our monthly discussions, please contact Liz Berquist.

Meeting Schedule

Tuesday, August 24, 2021



  • How does our shared definition of antiracism show up in our work as UDL implementers?
  • In what ways can we (ourselves) and colleagues in the field build our capacity in becoming [anti-racist educators, allies, co-conspiritors]?

3:45-5:00pm EST

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

  • How does UDL perpetuate the characteristics of white supremacy culture?
  • How can we leverage UDL to push against the characteristics of white supremacy culture?

3:45-5:00pm EST

Thursday, October 28, 2021

  • What implicit biases exist within the current iteration of the UDL framework?
  • Is UDL anti-racist?

3:45-5:00pm EST

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

  • How can this SIG push on/refine our conception of the term universal?  (ie-All of these terms “design from the margins” “for ALL students” can be problematic- how do we shift our language and thinking?
  • HOW can this SIG leverage UDL in the process of dismantling & transforming?

3:45-5:00pm EST

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

  • How can we ensure that our commitment to UDL and anti-racism is active and not passive?
  • How might we share the work of this SIG with the greater UDL community? 

3:45-5:00pm EST