The evolution of innovative technology for accessible STEM

Presented at 9:15am in Gov Square 12 on Friday, November 19, 2021.



  • Vijayshree Vethantham, Senior Vice-President, Growth & Strategy, Continual Engine US LLC
  • Rajiv Narayana, Chief Learning Officer, Continual Engine US LLC
  • AnnMarie Dittell, Accessibility and Compliance Manager, Pearson Education

Session Details

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


Technology alone cannot solve the issue of inequity as an increasing number of institutions continue seeking demonstrated approaches to accessibility. We will share our experience managing the delicate balance between sophisticated technology, collaboration, workflows, and change management to drive affordable, effective, and scaled accessibility outcomes in STEM disciplines.


In this presentation, we explore how technology can be a force for positive change in scalable, accessibility solutions across higher education when vetted and guided by empowered champions and organizational/institutional stakeholders.

Building and implementing an effective and pragmatic technology solution for accessibility may lie in marrying revolutionary technology advancements, such as artificial intelligence (AI) technology, machine learning, and automation, along with human expertise and contextual decision-making.

Our talk covers the journey in the successful implementation of AI technology-based solutions for making STEM images and documents accessible across several large courses and programs. The key differentiators in the successful adoption of these technological innovations which brought scale and efficiencies in accessibility include:

- Early insight on the challenge that the technology is addressing - Building a solution based on pragmatic, robust, human-centered design to address the challenge(s) while demonstrating exponential savings in cost and time along with reducing cumbersome tasks - Testing and validating with a community of accessibility experts, departments, and end users on the solution’s effectiveness - Change management/buy-in from the community, and all stakeholders involved in rolling out a widely viable solution across the institution/organization

Long-term success in higher education accessibility and equity is to experience affordable, scalable, and measurable advancements by bringing together practical implementation of good technology with the help of communities. This can only be achieved by enabling pathways for the community to experience and trust that the technology can be truly transformational.


  1. Technology’s ability to impact equity and accessibility depends on expert insight from accessibility experts.
  2. Successful technology implementation involves guiding behavioral changes across the adoption process.
  3. Marrying innovations with human experts and contextual decision-making is key to accessibility initiatives

Disability Areas

All Areas, Cognitive/Learning, Vision

Topic Areas

Accessible Educational Materials, Administrative/Campus Policy, Alternate Format, Assistive Technology, Faculty Development & Support, Uncategorized

Speaker Bio(s)

Vijayshree Vethantham

Vijayshree has nearly two decades of experience leading multidisciplinary teams, and managing key client partnerships in higher education and accessibility as part of the founding team of two education-based start-ups – ansrsource and Continual Engine. Her experience includes building impactful partnerships with large publishers and institutions, understanding their content and learning goals, and guiding solutions to enable scalable, and accessible learning experiences. Vijayshree leverages her deep knowledge of start-ups, higher education, and custom content development along with the potential of AI and technology in education to create thriving engagements with educational providers, learning organizations and other partners. Over the last few years, Vijayshree has dedicated her time to exploring how robust and pragmatic educational technology, designed with the intention of solving a problem, can enable transformation, inclusion, diversity, accessibility, and affordability for everyone.

Rajiv Narayana

Rajiv has 16 years of experience leading a team of learning content designers and developers as a co-founder of ansrsource. He has also worked with the artificial intelligence learning organization Continual Engine as its Chief Learning Officer. He brought his journalism experience in large scale editorial environments to learning at a time when there were not many firms specializing in digital learning design and development. The combination of speed, scale, and sophistication set ansrsource apart, and is why Rajiv has been able to forge strong relationships with the largest and most progressive learning organizations in the world. Rajiv has used this knowledge and trust earned over years of producing high quality learning experiences to bring new approaches to accessibility to leading Universities and Publishers.

AnnMarie Dittell

AnnMarie has over 25 years of experience working with people with disabilities. For the past four years, she has been working at Pearson as the Accessibility and Compliance Manager for U.S. higher education courseware. AnnMarie is responsible for aligning Pearson standards and requirements around WCAG guidance. She is passionate when working with vendors to bring innovation to Pearson’s courseware to provide seamless user experiences.

Prior to Pearson, AnnMarie worked for the Arizona Department of Education as an accessibility specialist where she focused on their website and digital documentation ensuring accessibility. She conducted quarterly trainings to state employees as well as local school districts. AnnMarie is also an entrepreneur and co-foundered a K-8th grade charter school centered on inclusion. Her life’s journey has always revolved on helping and empowering others to achieve their absolute best.