All means all

UDL & Special Education Infographic
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This course will equip educators with the skills and mindset needed for designing instructional experiences for students with significant support needs in inclusive contexts. Together, we will embark on a journey of educational innovation, equity, and inclusion. We will utilize the instructional framework of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as the primary vehicle for transforming classroom experiences and empowering learners for the 21st century.

This course will be co-facilitated by a pair of brothers both passionate about inclusion (watch their video!). EJ Smith will provide his expertise as an advocate for people with disabilities and as a person who received special education services and supports for his entire educational career. Zach Smith will provide his expertise as a former special education teacher, professional development facilitator, and district architect for rolling out Universal Design for Learning in Sanger Unified School District in California’s Central Valley.

Expect this experience to be both inspirational and challenging. Expect to come away with a new understanding of accessibility and its importance in the American preK-12 educational experience. All participants will be pushed to make assignments clear and accessible for both course facilitators. From Individual Education Plans (IEPs) to general education and special education partnerships, we will learn how to leverage the tools of today’s classroom in ways that empower and equip for high-quality learning for all! We are so excited to start this journey with you!

Course Details

This is a facilitated online course that will run from May 13th, 2019 – July 14th, 2019. This course will consist of eight modules.

Instructors: Zach Smith & EJ Smith

Cost: $445 for 36 contact hours (3.6 CEUs). Graduate credit (3 credits) may be obtained for this course for an additional $225 through Gordon College.

($20 discount per enrollment available to schools/districts that enroll 3 or more educators. Please contact Lindie Johnson at for details.)

All participants who receive a grade of C or better will receive a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the course. Those who pay the additional fee to Gordon College will also receive 3 graduate level credits. Contact Lindie Johnson at for details and instructions for obtaining graduate credit.

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Course Objectives

Learn how to use the instructional framework of Universal Design for Learning to design instructional experiences for students with intensive support needs.

Learn how to leverage special education policy, paperwork, and practices in ways that facilitate expert learning and inclusivity.

Develop the skills needed for collaboration with multiple educational stakeholders for the educational benefit and well being of all students.

Explore ways that empower learners to positively advocate for themselves when faced with inflexible learning environments and instructional design.

Discover the importance of developing a user perspective that can be applied to their instructional design.

Course Requirements

This course is offered online through eight weekly modules. Students can complete activities and assignments on their own time but should be mindful of assignment deadlines. 

Students will have the opportunity to communicate with fellow participants and the course instructors through Canvas discussion boards. Participants will be expected to pass in work by the due date, but will also be given the opportunity to revise and improve upon their work (just as students in their class should be given the same respect using the UDL framework).

All students must create a Canvas account and login to view modules and assignments.  All assignments must be submitted electronically through Canvas. All assignments can be resubmitted for feedback and grading up until the last day of the course.

Students will be provided with regular feedback and rubrics to help them determine how they will be assessed throughout the course.

About Your Instructors

Zach Smith

Zach Smith

Zach Smith was born and raised in Fresno, California. Growing up in with siblings with disabilities, Zach saw first hand the impact of exclusionary instructional practices. After graduating from Fresno State, he started his career as a special education teacher for 8 years in Sanger Unified (a small rural district outside of Fresno).

Over the past 3 years, he has co-led the implementation of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) for all teachers in Sanger. Zach has extensive knowledge in UDL; presenting, coaching, planning, and building organizational capacity around this initiative.

Beginning in the fall of 2019, Zach will start a new chapter in his professional journey as a student in Harvard’s Doctorate of Education Leadership program in Cambridge Massachusetts. Zach, lives with his wife and best friend Dorothy, as well as their four daughters, Grace (8), Amy (6), Isabella (3), and Sydney(1). Zach is a passionate advocate for the power of inclusion to revolutionize the way teachers teach and being paramount for closing achievement gaps.

He received his M.A. and B.A. from Fresno State University and is a Doctoral Student at HGSE Ed.L.D Program.

EJ Smith

EJ Smith

Hello…My name is EJ Smith and I went to high school at Bullard High School. It is good place to be because I remember how I started and also graduated. I was in leadership class for two years.

Break the Barriers is a great place to be and they have gymnastics, dance, Taekwondo, music, sign language for all abilities. I am on the performing travel team and have visited 7 countries to demonstrate abilities and inclusion. My first trip was to China with my brother. I have been to Dominican Republic, India, Peru, Australia, and The Philippines. We are going to Canada in October this year.

I was a volunteer at the VA hospital for 7 years. And it was good for me and I was working in the laundry to fold patient’s gowns, sorting clothes, folding towels and washcloths, and shaking pillowcases. That’s what I liked at the VA hospital.

Now, I am in Project SEARCH at Community Regional Medical Center. They are great workers, always helping me to learn new skills for working. I try to help them and I live with my parents. And I take care of the pets every night and I let dogs in the house and I fold all the laundry every day. I don’t like anyone else to help me do any jobs for me. I want to work at some place like the hospital when I am finished with Project SEARCH.



We would love to have you join us! Click below to register and enroll in “Inclusion for All: UDL & Special Education” with Zach Smith and EJ Smith. 

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