Improving Student Learning Gains with Accessibility Features and AI Technology

Presented at 8:00am in Colorado I-J on Wednesday, November 16, 2022.



  • Rick Johnson, Co-Founder, Vice President of Product Strategy, VitalSource
  • Stacy Ray, Senior Product Manager, VitalSource

Session Details

  • Length of Session: 1-hr
  • Format: Interactive/Discussion
  • Expertise Level: All Levels
  • Type of session: General Conference


As digital textbooks become more interactive, will learners be left behind? No! Join our session to learn how accessibility meets learning science, and how the student engagement data can be used by instructors to gain new insights into learner engagement.


VitalSource has leveled up etextbooks by combining award-winning assistive technologies with learning science and integrating formative practice into the Bookshelf® etext. Now, in addition to screen reader compatibility, built-in speech functionality, font choices (including OpenDyslexic), a variety of content controls, and more, the Bookshelf etext also uses artificial intelligence (AI) to create millions of practice questions across thousands of textbook titles, providing embedded practice throughout etexts. This offers students engagement opportunities at the point of learning to confirm their understanding of the material.

Using AI for automatic question generation (AQG) allows for unprecedented scaling of the learn-by-doing method known to cause the Doer Effect (a learning science principle that proves doing practice while reading causes better outcomes). Until now, the Doer Effect has been too costly to scale manually. By using AI, VitalSource has effectively democratized the Doer Effect for millions of students while also providing instructors with analytics about student engagement.

Instructors gain insight into student engagement through the instructor dashboard, which gives them data around the average number of questions completed, first attempt accuracy, average session length, pages read per session, and more. All of this can be used by instructors to identify at risk students and help them reach their goals.

With an accessible etext and embedded practice, no student is left behind.


  1. The latest interactive tools are supported by VitalSource Bookshelf + Bookshelf CoachMe™.
  2. Cutting-edge industry standards empower digital textbook publishers to enable accessibility and interactivity.
  3. Title accessibility is critical to instructor adoption and learner purchase.

Disability Areas

Topic Areas

Accessible Course Design, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Rick Johnson

One of the founders of VitalSource Technologies, Inc., Rick Johnson manages the strategic direction of the fast-growing platform, guiding the architecture, and implementation of its clients and systems. He is a frequent speaker on electronic textbooks, their integration into an institutional environment, and how the accessibility needs of individual students can best be accommodated in their delivery. He has served on multiple committees addressing the needs around delivering accessible content to students and currently serves on the board of directors for IMSGlobal. He is the co-inventor of 3 domestic and international patents dealing with electronic books and their distribution. Prior to Ingram and VitalSource, Rick spent more than 12 years with Apple Computer, Inc. as a Senior National Consulting Engineer.

Stacy Ray

Stacy Ray is a Senior Product Manager with VitalSource where she manages the Bookshelf learning platform. As part of the Bookshelf product team, Stacy works closely with design, engineering and our testing partners to ensure our content and tools exceed industry accessibility standards. Prior to VitalSource, Stacy spent six years, managing the CPA Review Program for Becker Professional Education, the industry’s leading provider of CPA Exam preparation. Stacy holds a Master of Business Administration from DePaul University.