Common Accessibility Questions by Online Learners

Handouts Media

Presented at 9:15am in Plaza Court 3 on Thursday, November 18, 2021.



  • Elizabeth Simister, Product Accessibility Manager, Blackboard, Inc (now part of Anthology)

Session Details

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


This session is intended to provide instructors insights into the most common questions that the Blackboard Accessibility Team has received by online learners and some techniques for improving the student experience.


In the age of COVID when nearly all educational experiences have moved to the virtual environment, how can we best support our students? This session is intended to cover five common issues that as the product accessibility manager I have heard from clients and offer some suggestions on improving the student experience. These issues include the following: 1. Understanding how to find information in the application, 2. Participating in discussions, 3. Understanding the importance of accommodations for tests, 4. Using whiteboards in interactive sessions, and 5. Including sign language interpreters in interactive sessions. This session is intended to be product-neutral and comments from participants will be welcomed.


  1. Understand the challenges students face in a virtual environment
  2. Provide non-technical suggestions for improving student experience in virtual environments
  3. Focus on students interact in the learning environment rather than on just accessible content

Disability Areas

All Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Elizabeth Simister

Elizabeth Simister is the current product accessibility manager at Blackboard. Ms. Simister got her start in accessibility in 2004 in what is now the K. Lisa Yang and Hock E. Tan Institute on Employment and Disability Institute at Cornell University. One of her biggest responsibilities was understanding how to take scanned journal pages with lots of charts, graphs, tables, and math formulas and make them in accessible PDFs. After Cornell, she spent a number of years working as a contractor helping different organizations figure out what they needed to do to be accessible. Ms. Simister been at Blackboard for two years and her primary focus is on working with the development teams to get to a point where the Blackboard products are as accessible as possible.