picture of Dr. Fran SmithFrances Smith, Ed.D

Dr. Frances (Fran) Smith has been following the collective fields of universal design for learning, instructional technology, assistive technology, and career assessment for over 25+ years. She completed her doctoral work at The George Washington University (GW) in 2007 in higher education where the focus of her dissertation was entitled, “The perceptions of universal design for learning in college classrooms“.

Fran began making adaptations to tools in her very early work as a vocational evaluation practitioner during the late 1970’s and quickly realized that many an individual with a disability could not “fit into the square” that a standardized test required. She began following the exciting field of assistive technology during her graduate work at GW University in the 1980’s and again realizing the amazing potential of technology to level the playing field for all.

She led the charge as the first vocational assistive technology practitioner for Fairfax County Public Schools, developing protocols for providing services to students and sharing knowledge with others around the country. Her early work involved collaborations with IBM’s special needs division and the early developments of several of their computer-based cognitive and speech training tools.

As an early adopter of technology, Dr. Smith has watched technology blossom from large, expensive and sometimes “clunky” tools to portable resources that capitalize upon the ubiquitous nature of digital connectivity. Dr. Smith is an educator and independent educational consultant based in Richmond, VA. She was a 2011-12 UDL Fellow with Boston College Lynch School of Education and CAST. Currently she teaches as an Adjunct Professor for George Washington University where she has taught a graduate course in universal design for learning since 2003 and has worked previously as an instructional faculty and as an educator/consultant with the School of Education at Virginia Commonwealth University and others. Dr. Smith has been designing and teaching online and blended graduate coursework since the late 1990’s and co-developed an initial online course in 1997 entitled, “Technology and Disabilities”.

Dr. Smith provides trainings and consultations throughout the US and internationally. She is a member of CAST’s National UDL Faculty, and the newly launched Learning Designed community. She presents often at CAST’s Annual UDL Symposium and the UDL-IRN International Conference. Her interests are in all facets of UDL, universal design, instructional and assistive technologies, and career assessment.

Dr. Smith is a practitioner with years of experience in vocational evaluation, assistive technology, and distance learning. She is a past Board Member-at-large and Past-President of the National Vocational Evaluation and Career Assessment Professionals Association (VECAP) and represented VECAP on the National Task Force on Universal Design for Learning from 2009-2018. Her research interests focus on UDL in higher education, transition, career assessment and college classrooms.