Symplicity Spotlight: Katie Tappel

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 are getting to know Katie Tappel! Katie brings her career in accessibility services and mental health counseling to helping clients launch their Symplicity Accommodate system on their campus. Katie joined Symplicity in 2021 as an Accommodate Implementation Manager, bringing unmatched and creativity to help clients each step of the way to "work smarter not harder" to provide better support to their campus communities. Get to know Katie below:

Before you joined Symplicity, what was your role in higher ed and what topics are you most passionate about?
Prior to joining Symplicity, I worked as the Associate Director of Accessibility Services at Loyola University Chicago. Accessibility Services staff wear many hats, but the parts of my role I most enjoyed were developing relationships with students and campus partners and educating folks on disability access and inclusion.

What got you interested in higher education? 
My background is mental health and counseling; I worked for many years as a therapist with dual diagnosed individuals (people with mental health and substance use disorders) and I also worked with adolescents in the foster care system. In those roles, I did a lot of psycho-education and often worked to connect individuals to outside/additional supports. When I moved to a new city, a higher ed position seemed like a great fit because it allowed me to incorporate my counseling and advocacy skills.

What made you join Symplicity and look into EdTech?
I was ready to make a transition out of higher education, and Symplicity seemed like a great fit. I had a lot of experience training my own staff on how to best use Accommodate, and I knew I could make a positive impact with teaching other disability services folks how to use Accommodate. I also love “working smarter not harder,”  and knew I would enjoy helping clients make their business processes more efficient.  

How does your previous work in higher ed help you support clients?
Like many disability services offices in higher ed, we were using some outdated, inefficient, and manual processes for managing our students… until we purchased Accommodate! I implemented Accommodate in our office and I saw the huge impact it had on our business process and our interactions with students and faculty. When I’m working with new clients in implementation, I’m very familiar with potential pain points in their current processes, their change management concerns, and I can give practical tips based on my experience as an Accommodate user.

In your view, what are some of the biggest changes student success roles in higher ed in the last five years?
I think that students’ needs and concerns have become more complex, plus mental health and disability rates on campus are higher than ever before. Most offices are under resourced (physically, financially, emotionally), stressed, and asked to do more with less. Accessibility services is more than just providing access to reasonable accommodations, but it’s hard to meet the more complex needs of a growing population without additional resources.

What’s your role as implementation manager?
As an implementation manager, I work with new clients to learn about their current process, help them build Accommodate to meet their needs, and train them on how to use their new system. It requires a lot of project management skills and helping clients plan for all their business process needs. Accommodate has default set ups, but every office is different and has unique ways that they track their students and data. I like helping clients configure their sites to create more efficient processes, work smarter not harder, and identify better ways to use data to “tell their story.”

What’s something you want people to know about implementing a Symplicity product?
I know most clients would love to have a new system set up and ready to go overnight, but implementing a new product takes time. This is a big project that requires time spent on planning, practicing in the system, and making a lot of decisions about how your office will function. While I will always do my best to work with clients on their desired timeline, I’ve had many clients express gratitude for me encouraging them to slow down and not rush the process.

What’s the biggest pain points for clients and professionals focused on student success today?
There’s never enough time in the day! As I mentioned before, mental health and disability rates on campus are higher than ever. Higher ed professionals are expected to meet the complex needs of this rapidly growing population, often without additional resources. In my opinion, using Accommodate can help make your business process more efficient so that you can spend more time focusing on students.

Tell us a story of a client’s struggle that you helped them solve with Accommodate?
I recently implemented a state university system that has disability services staff across multiple universities and campuses. During implementation, we consolidated their process and identified ways that we can make the student experience more consistent, no matter which university the student attended. Additionally, while this wasn’t a planned goal, I also think the implementation process gave the staff a better network within their system, allowing them to develop better relationships, teamwork, and collaboration with each other.

What’s your favorite feature within Accommodate and why?
I think it’s a tie between quick notes and reporting! Instead of printout out emails to put in paper files or copying and pasting email threads into the notes section, clients can quickly forward email conversations into a student’s case file. It’s a nice time saver. I also love reporting because there is SO much data in the system that you can use to tell your story. How many students have you met with? How many exams did you proctor in a given week/term? How many instructors engaged with the system/signed letters? This is all great data that clients can use to better advocate for their students and for additional resources.

What’s a feature you think people don’t use enough of in Accommodate?
I’m not sure if it’s under-utilized or not, but one thing I always encourage clients to use is the “hint” feature. I think it’s a small, but mighty, tool that helps make the system more user friendly for students and faculty. You can leave “hints” on a page that can give additional instructions or information. I think it’s especially helpful for clients who have concerns about change management or students/faculty learning a new system.

What is one thing you would tell someone considering Accommodate?
It’s worth it! Speaking from experience, I know how much it improved my work. Prior to Accommodate, I was using a spreadsheet and paper forms. There are so many unique ways you can improve your business process, and the Symplicity team is here to support you through it.

Outside of work, what do you enjoy doing? Tell us a little about yourself!
Outside of work I spend most of my time with my husband, kids, and dog. I also enjoy pretty much any outdoor activity, painting, pottery, cooking, and baking.


To learn more about Symplicity and how our expert team can support you and your institution, e-mail us at

Accessibility Services, support, Accommodate, Symplicity Spotlight, client success

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