Barriers to Access and Opportunities for Transformation: Inclusive Pedagogy in the Transition to Remote Learning




  • John Scott, Ally Product Manager, Blackboard

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Lecture
  • Expertise Level: Beginner
  • Type of session: General Conference


The transition to remote instruction due to global pandemic exacerbated existing barriers to access and inclusion for students learning online at home. Through an investigation of digital course content, this session analyzes trends in accessibility issues across 450 institutions, as well as instructor and student usage of inclusive learning tools.


The abrupt transition to remote instruction in response to the pandemic resulted in a sudden increase in digital course content. Without access to campus resources, students faced increase challenges while disability support teams were left scrambling to keep pace in addressing accessibility issues. A digital transformation also offers new opportunities for imagining how digital tools can enhance the experience for students with diverse needs and abilities. In this session, we analyze data from 450 institutions using Blackboard Ally during the Spring 2020 term. Analysis includes: - Trends in accessibility issues with digital content pre and post transition - Instructor usage of accessibility feedback and guidance - Student usage of alternative formats of learning materials Results reveal an increase in barriers to access, but also an increase in usage of these tools. The findings provide insights into inclusive pedagogy as well as strategies for addressing barrier to access.


  1. Transition to remote instruction resulted in a sudden influx of accessibility issues with digital content
  2. Given barriers to access, student usage of alternative formats increased to support learning needs
  3. Faculty played an increasing role in addressing accessibility issues with additional strain on support teams

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Accessible Educational Materials, Alternate Format, Faculty Development & Support, Institutional/Campus Change, Research, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

John Scott

John is passionate about supporting teachers adopt new technologies and inclusive pedagogy in their classroom practice. Prior to joining the Blackboard Ally team, he worked on his PhD in Education and New Media at the University of California Berkeley, where he designed, taught, and researched online learning courses focused on collaborative learning, multimodal literacy, and Universal Design for Learning. He did his Masters degree in Education and spent 4 years as a Special Education teacher in New York City public schools, specializing in technology-mediated literacy and learning.