Symplicity Spotlight: Holly Zuckerman

Each and every day, our client managers across the globe help make our clients' day-to-day just a little bit easier so that they can better support their students. With a client support team that comes from across the student success spectrum, clients continuously speak to the dedication of our client support team, and we at Symplicity want to give them the attention they deserve. In our series, Symplicity Spotlight, we’re pulling back the curtain on our client support team.

In our latest installment, we chat with our all-star, and client favorite, Client Manager Holly Zuckerman! For more than a decade, Holly has worked in the disability and accessibility services space. Holly only brings a wealth of experienced insight and deep compassion to helping Accommodate clients across the country better support their students.

Before you joined Symplicity, what was your role in higher ed/previous role and what topics are you most passionate about? 
Before Symplicity I worked in the field of accessibility services in higher education for 11 years, since I was an undergraduate student. I was passionate about everything, and my supervisors were incredibly open to nurturing all of my interests, which is how I went from an undergrad just looking for a job to the well-rounded professional I am today. Although, I wouldn’t have chosen to specialize in any particular part of the field, I really enjoyed AT and disability law while my main job responsibilities were exam accommodations and Deaf and hard of hearing services. The best part was always being an advocate for my students and them knowing the care myself and my coworkers put into our work. 

What got you interested in higher education and accessibility services?  

I never imagined that I would find myself in this field. I was only desperately looking for a job when a couple of friends of mine who happened to be students with disabilities told me the disability services office is always looking for student workers. I was hired simply because I could type fast and had good grammar skills, and they needed someone to work on their new captioning program for VHS and DVDs. Landing the job was regardless of the fact that I was immersed in Deaf culture with my mom from an early age while she became fluent in sign language, and my first job was with the Muscular Dystrophy Association after volunteering with them for years.

What made you join Symplicity and look into EdTech? 

The office I worked in used Accommodate, and I ended up becoming the “super user” responsible for setting up the system and learning how to use it and then passing my knowledge to my coworkers. My implementation manager recognized how quickly I picked up using the system and the thoroughness of my hands-on experience and invited me to apply for a position as an implementation manager. Although I didn’t get hired for that position because another candidate had experience with more than one Symplicity product, my supervisor now called me a couple of months later to offer me a CM position specifically on the Accommodate team.

How does your previous work in higher ed help you support clients? 

I consider my work now with Symplicity an extension of my career in accessibility services. I’m no longer working with students in the field, but I get to help my clients, who I once would have considered my colleagues, to do their jobs to the best of their abilities. I’m able to take my experience from the field and passion for this work and apply it to my expertise with Accommodate to ensure that my clients get the most out of their system and that it works as well as possible for their needs.

In your view, what are some of the biggest changes student success roles in higher ed in the last five years?

It could almost be considered cliché at this point to say that the pandemic has been the most impactful change to student success in higher education, but beyond that I think the next biggest change has been the advancement in technology and how that impacts the ways in which students have access to their education. Being able to keep up with the progression of technology and keep curriculum and access to services accessible and relevant to students’ needs today is essential.

What’s the biggest pain points for clients and professionals in disability and accessibility services?

At this point, I think the biggest pain points for the folks I work with are the impacts of the current societal environment on the needs of their students. Stressors are higher than usual with the pandemic, inflation, war, etc. and people are more cognizant than ever of their needs and their rights to accessibility services. These conditions have driven requests for accommodations to higher levels and at a faster rate than ever.

Tell us a story of a client’s struggle that you helped them solve with ACC?

I have a number of clients that I’ve worked with who went from an archaic filing system and no way to manage certain accommodations efficiently to having the most useful tool at their fingertips that they could have wished for. Accommodate has made it almost effortless for students to connect with their office, for staff to complete requests for accommodations in a more timely manner, to keep all of their records secure in a concise location that can be accessed from anywhere, and to be able to report on work they’re doing in Accommodate to make the case for additional resources.

What’s your favorite feature within ACC and why?
My favorite feature within Accommodate is the notetaker network within the service provider module. It’s a powerful example of how Accommodate can be used to ensure students are receiving their accommodations in a timely and appropriate manner. Everything from recruiting to connecting a notetaker with a student needing notes can be accomplished within the notetaker network. Every bit of the accommodation is managed through Accommodate, including the notetaker being able to autonomously share their notes with the receiver, and completely anonymously from both ends. It doesn’t get more efficient than that when peer notetakers are a necessary accommodation.

What’s a feature you think people don’t use enough?
A feature that I think isn’t used enough, and probably not at all, is “Sponsors”. It was copied over from CSM and doesn’t seem to have much use in Accommodate, but I’ve demonstrated how to turn it into a place to share resources with students in a graphic and eye-catching way. Sponsors allows staff to post an image, a blurb, and a link, and it’s displayed in a rotating carousel on the student’s portal. Imagine posting the logo for the school’s counseling center with a link to their webpage and a blurb explaining that students can get free help. Or an image representing an upcoming event, a click-worthy headline, and a link to the event.

What is one thing you would tell someone considering ACC?
When you make the most of it, it’s worth it. It can revolutionize a lot of your work.

What is something you wish people knew about the disability services community and students with a disability?
I wish people understood better that accessibility services isn’t a privilege or service, it’s mandatory and essential to ensure that students have the best opportunity to succeed without the unnecessary impacts of their disability on their ability to do the work. It’s about helping students to have the best experience they can.

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing? Tell us a little about yourself!
I love to read. I’m in 4 book clubs, 3 of which I participate in regularly every month and the other I join depending on what they’re reading. My two cats are perfect for keeping me cozy in my book nook. I love to travel, and my favorite places I’ve been to so far are Ireland and Fiji. I love adventures in/on water. My favorite summer activity is tubing up in the Smokies, and I went white water rafting on the Ocoee this past summer for the second time since about 10 years ago. I’m also a big fan of Soccer (Go Chattanooga Football Club!) and NFL football. Giants fan by default (family from NYC) and Packers fan by choice. I also really enjoy learning things and having plenty of useless information stuffed in my head. Ask me about how Chattanooga and the Times Square NYE celebration are connected, and please invite me to your trivia team!


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