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Congressional Briefing: May 19, 2010

On May 19, 2010 at the Capitol Visitor's Center in Washington, DC, the National UDL Task Force sponsored a Congressional briefing called Meeting the Needs of All Students in ESEA: How Universal Design for Learning Improves Outcomes for Students & Schools. National UDL Task Force Policy Committee Co-chair Reggie Felton of the National School Boards Association (NSBA) welcomed the 55 attendees who represented 12 Congressional offices and both the Senate HELP committee and the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, key national education and disability organizations and members of the press.

After Communication Committee Co-chair Dr. Patti Ralabate of the National Education Association (NEA) offered a brief presentation debunking the myths around UDL, Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) co-founders Dr. David Rose and Dr. Anne Meyer presented an excellent overview of UDL which included a brief video of UDL principles in action. On behalf of the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Amanda Fitzgerald introduced the following Maryland educators who shared real examples of UDL in practice. Dr. Denise DeCoste, the High Incidence Accessible Technology Team Leader in Montgomery County, MD, discussed how UDL is being implemented in her school district and how UDL provisions in ESEA would help with that work. Leigh String, a Montgomery County 4th grade teacher in a UDL pilot school, demonstrated implementation strategies she uses and UDL's impact on learning for her students. Task Force chair Ricki Sabia of the National Down Syndrome Society summarized the UDL recommendations for ESEA and moderated a lively question-answer session. In addition, CAST's Jenna Gavel and Anne Meyer showed how to access resources available on the National UDL Center's website, www.udlcenter.org.

From the response and questions of the Congressional staff attending, it was evident that the briefing accomplished its purposes which included: 1) increasing awareness and understanding of UDL among key Congressional staff who will be involved in ESEA's reauthorization, 2) clarifying how UDL can help schools meet the learning needs of all students, and 3) sharing the Task Force's recommendations for ESEA's reauthorization. The briefing was possible through the assistance of Kim Hymes of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the generous support of the Association of Assistive Technology Act Programs, the Council for Exceptional Children, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, the National Center for Learning Disabilities, the National Down Syndrome Society, the National Education Association and the National School Boards Association.

Last Updated: 08/24/2011

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