You are here:

Special Education at the University of Utah
You Can Make a Difference!


Special education means specially designed instruction to ensure a free and appropriate education for students regardless of the extent or type of their disability. The Department of Special Education prepares special education teacher candidates and general education teacher candidates to work with students with disabilities in the areas of mild/moderate disabilities, severe disabilities, early childhood special education, vision impairments, and students who are deaf & hard of hearing. At the graduate level, the Department of Special Education prepares tomorrow's leaders in the field at both the master's and doctoral degree levels.

The preparation of teachers and leadership personnel includes adaptation of curriculum, accommodation to meet student needs, collaboration with schools and the community, assessment of student abilities, behavioral interventions, special education policy, and legal issues.

What's Happening in SPED

Teacher Recruiting in Mild/Moderate Disabilities Licensure Project

The TRIMM project targets both bachelor’s and master’s level students interested in obtaining a license in special education with a focus on mild/moderate disabilities. Stipends are available to 5 undergraduate students and 5 graduate students.

Application and deadline information:

For more information, contact:
Breda O’Keeffe,, 801-585-1817
Sharlene Kiuhara,, 801-585-1176
Leanne Hawken,, 801-581-5968

Utah Inclusive Arts Festival
May 18-20, 2017

Beverley Taylor Sorenson Arts & Education Complex (SAEC)
See photos & videos from previous festivals at

SPED receives two new IDEA personnel preparation grants
from the Utah State Board of Education!

Breda O'KeeffeGrant1:
Principal Investigator - Breda O’Keeffe
The Teacher Recruiting in Mild/Moderate (TRIMM) Licensure Project
  will support students pursuing degrees/licenses in the area of Mild/Moderate Disabilities.


Andrea McDonnellGrant 2:
Principal Investigator-Andrea McDonnell
The University of Utah Project to Prepare New Early Childhood Special Educators with Utah Preschool Special Education Teaching License (birth-five) will support students pursuing degrees/licenses in the area of Preschool Special Education.

Gnome in your home book coverSusan Johnston, Special Education professor, created a book to help teach children about doing small acts of kindness. “The Gnome in Your Home – A Tradition of Kindness” is an illustrated children’s book and plush toy inspired by Johnston’s own family’s experiences as well as her professional work.

Read more about Dr. Johnston and her book here >>

Jen CallJen Call is the 2016-17 recipient of the Molly Lawson Research Fellowship. Jennifer received her BS in early childhood/special education from BYU Idaho and her MEd in early childhood studies from Boise State University. She taught special education in preschool, first and second grades where she incorporated music into her classroom every day. Jennifer is obtaining her doctoral degree so she can have a positive impact on the lives of a larger number of young children with special needs and their families than she did as a teacher. Her goal is to work in teacher education, influencing pre-service teachers to value building solid relationships with student and partnering with their families.
The generous support of the Molly Lawson Fellowship is provided annually from the Molly Lawson Foundation and Dr. and Mrs. Michael Lawson. This prestigious award is made to one deserving student in the pursuit of a graduate degree in Special Education with particular interest in working in the areas of integrating arts into education and/or supporting families of children with disabilities.

Chris BischkeThe Department of Special Education/Multi-University Consortium Teacher Preparation Program in Sensory Impairments has been awarded a Teacher Preparation Grant from the Office of Special Education Programs of the U.S. Department of Education. This five year project will provide $1,244,230 to support the preparation of teachers who will work with students with sensory impairments (students who are Deaf and Hard of hearing, Visual Impairments and Deafblind). The grant will be managed by principal investigator Dr. Chris Bischke. Scholars will receive $5,000 per semester for up to six semesters.  Graduate scholars may be eligible for a tuition waiver. Interested persons can contact Dr. Bischke at (


Last Updated: 5/12/17