The Student Disability Center (SDC) provides note-taking assistance accommodations as an accommodation/auxiliary aid for students with disabilities that significantly affect their ability to take notes in class. Note-taking assistance accommodations are designed to supplement a student’s learning process by having another person record on paper the essential points delivered in a class. These accommodations are not to be used as a substitute for attending class.
Eligibility and Approval
Eligibility for this accommodation is determined by an assessment of a student’s individual needs by an SDC accommodations specialist or other appropriate SDC staff. Students must have appropriate documentation of a disability in order to be eligible for note-taking accommodations. The effects or limitations, of the disability must also support the need for note-taking assistance accommodations as assessed and verified by an SDC specialist or by another appropriate SDC staff member.
Note-taking assistance accommodations may be requested by a student or be recommended by an SDC staff member as an appropriate accommodation after an assessment of needs. Prior to provision of this service, the need for this accommodation/auxiliary aid must be appropriately documented by an SDC staff member which will indicate approval for the service. Recommendation and approval is dependent upon the student’s stated need as supported by appropriate disability documentation.
All students who request note-taking assistance accommodations for the first time must meet with an SDC staff member for the accommodation to be approved. Once approved, note-taking assistance accommodations must be requested by a student each semester in order to continue this accommodation. All student requests for note-taking support services are submitted through a student request form to the SDC staff member for the continuation of the accommodation. Students need to meet with an appropriate SDC staff member for the continuation of services each semester. Continuation of services will be documented each semester.
Provisional Status Approval
An appropriate SDC staff member may also recommend and/or approve note-taking assistance accommodations under provisional status for a student who presents a strong indication they may need this accommodation/auxiliary aid but does not have supporting disability documentation. Strong indication includes but is not limited to:
- Prior history of support services in school
- Indication the student is in the middle of a diagnostic process
- Other clear indicators that a student likely has a disability that would significantly affect their ability to take notes.
These indicators will be documented by an appropriate SDC staff member as part of the recommendation/approval for services. Provisional status is limited to no longer than one semester. Continuation of service is dependent upon the provision of supporting disability documentation.
Students who have a temporary disability due to injuries affecting their ability to write may also be eligible for note-taking assistance accommodations. Students who are temporarily disabled due to injuries or other acute conditions may be granted provisional status through their recovery.
Provision of Accommodations
Once note-taking accommodations have been recommended/approved, there are several options available to a student in securing a note-taker for a particular class. Note-takers generally come from a volunteer who is currently enrolled in the same class. However, when this arrangement does not meet the needs of the student, a paid note-taker may be utilized. A paid note-taker may or may not be currently enrolled in the same class. Appropriate rationale for paid note-takers will be documented and must be approved by the SDC director prior to provision for each semester in which they will be needed.
Specific student requests for paid note-takers must be made in a timely manner to an appropriate SDC staff member so that appropriate assessments and recommendations can be made and appropriate personnel can be identified and hired. Specific requests for paid note-takers are submitted in the same manner described above for basic note-taking assistance accommodations.
All recommendations for paid note-takers must be approved by the SDC director. The recommendation for paid note-takers must be supported as appropriate to the need resulting from the significant effects of a student’s disability and/or the nature of the course and documented by an appropriate SDC staff member.
Options of Support
In some situations, assistive technology may be used as a method in supporting students with note-taking. A student may be recommended assistive technology as a possible accommodation by an accommodations specialist or another appropriate SDC staff member. If the student is interested in this recommendation they will be referred to the Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC) where their staff will assess the student to determine which piece(s) of technology may be most effective for their specific needs. Once determined the ATRC staff will train the student on use of the appropriate technology.
The most common arrangement for note-taking support is through an in-class volunteer note-taker. There are two options available for the recruitment of in-class volunteer note-takers: student initiated or SDC initiated.
There are several methods that can be used by a student to find a suitable volunteer note-taker although each method may not be appropriate for every student. An SDC staff member and student should discuss each method to determine which might work most effectively depending upon a student’s circumstances.
- A student may ask someone they know if they would be willing to share their notes on a regular basis.
- A student will contact the instructor of the class to request their assistance in finding a note-taker. An announcement to the class is normally the first step in finding volunteers. Either the student or the instructor may make this announcement, indicating that there is a need for a person willing to serve as a note-taker.
- Instructors may be able to identify specific students who perform more successfully than others and/or who appear to take productive notes. Students are encouraged to explore this method of recruitment to also help in identifying potential support for studying course material.
Note: Prior to instructor involvement in the process of identifying potential note-takers, a student must present the instructor a copy of a letter of accommodation verifying the need for the accommodation. This letter will be issued to the student at the time of approval for this service is given by SDC.
If self-recruiting prospective note-takers is not an effective process for a student, the SDC will assist and/or support the student in this endeavor.
- Upon request from the student to an appropriate SDC staff member, a representative from the SDC will help to facilitate the identification of a note-taker through an announcement in class and/or through contact with the instructor.
The SDC does not guarantee a student’s anonymity in the process of providing note-taking support services. If requested, a student’s identity will be protected as much as possible from class identification. However, the SDC expects communication between the student and the volunteer note-taker as much as possible in order to facilitate the exchange and/or clarification of notes.
Depending upon the class and/or the accommodative needs of a student, an in-class volunteer note-taker may not prove to be sufficiently effective as an accommodation/auxiliary aid. A student may request, and/or an appropriate SDC staff member may recommend, the provision of a paid note-taker. These note-takers may be other students (currently in the class or previous class members) or they may be individuals hired specifically to take notes for a particular class. These individuals may or may not be students.
There are two types of paid note-takers, note-takers and note-taker/tutors. Either may be an individual from within the class or someone hired to attend the class with the student.
- Paid note-taker: an individual who attends each class with the student, takes extensive notes during class and explains or clarifies notes for the student when necessary.
- Note-taker/tutor: an individual who attends class with the student, takes extensive notes and spends additional time tutoring the student.
Recruitment and Hiring
Note-takers and note-taker/tutors are obtained through a variety of means. The student, professor and/or the SDC may be involved in the process. Although paid note-takers are not recruited through student initiative, students may be asked for suggestions of potential note-takers. Professors may also provide information concerning previous or current students in the class as potential note-takers. In addition, the SDC may recommend a person as a note-taker based upon previous contacts and/or employment with the SDC.
If a student finds that a note-taker is not attending class or for other reasons is not suitable, replacement of that note-taker should take place immediately. Students are expected to inform an appropriate SDC staff member as soon as possible so that efforts can be made for replacing missed notes and/or a note-taker.
After a volunteer note-taker is selected, they will be asked on behalf of the SDC to sign an agreement indicating their intention to take notes for a set period of time for a particular class. This agreement should be signed within two weeks after a volunteer has been identified. The agreement details the note-takers responsibilities to the student and to the SDC as a volunteer. In addition, each note-taker will be given, a copy of the “note-takers responsibilities” information sheet. The responsibilities for securing the signed agreement will be decided upon between the student and the appropriate SDC staff member.
Paid note-takers and note-taker/tutors are considered in the employees of the SDC and not the student. They are required to submit appropriate employee paperwork to the SDC prior to working any hours in order to be paid.
Time devoted to note-taking or note-taking/tutoring is to be recorded electronically through the TimeClock Plus system. Pay periods last two weeks and end on Friday of the second week. Note-takers and note-taker/tutors will be paid once their time has been processed and approved by the appropriate SDC staff member.
A note-taker and the student are expected to work out a system to exchange notes. One option may be to have notes copied on a regular basis. Another option is to have the note-taker use carbonless paper.
SDC will copy notes from note-takers free of charge provided the note-taker has signed an agreement to volunteer on behalf of or work for the SDC. Notes that need to be copied are copied in the SDC main office.
Any other arrangements for copying notes must be approved prior to initiation by an appropriate SDC staff member. Arrangements for copying in remote locations (i.e., other than at the SDC) must be recommended by an appropriate SDS staff member and approved by the SDC Director prior to initiation if reimbursement charges are involved.
Packets of carbonless paper are usually given to either the student or the note-taker (as agreed upon by an appropriate SDC staff member). Volunteer note-takers must sign an agreement before carbonless paper is given to them directly by the SDC. Students may purchase their own carbonless paper for note-takers at their own expense if SDC is not involved in the notetaking support process.
It is recommended that notes be exchanged daily if possible and not less than once a week. The SDC may be used as a drop-off point for the exchange of notes when necessary.
Students are expected to attend each class for which a set of notes is exchanged. Note-takers are not responsible to provide copies of notes to a student if the student was not in attendance on a particular day (medical or other situations may be considered exceptions with approval from an appropriate SDC staff member).
If an instructor is utilized as a means of identifying a potential note-taker or is otherwise involved in the provision of note-taking support, they will be given a letter verifying the need of a note-taker for a student. This letter will be issued by an appropriate SDC staff member and presented to the instructor either by the student or by an SDC staff member.
Instructors may be asked to share copies of lecture notes and/or presentation slides. The SDC understands that there may be limits to this option of support depending upon the availability of lecture notes and/or copyright restrictions.
Instructors may also be asked to facilitate the identification of potential note-takers (either volunteer or paid) based on current or previous interaction with other students. GTAs are often a potential resource as a note-taker in courses as well as students who have already completed a particular course. Instructors may be asked to make an announcement for volunteers on behalf of the student and/or the SDC.
When transcription of lectures is used as an accommodation/auxiliary aid, an instructor may be asked to help in the recording process (e.g., wearing a microphone or operating a recorder).
Other Options of Support
Digitally recording lecture may be a viable option for a student to either supplement the student’s own note-taking process to enhance the notes of a note-taker. Digital recorders may be available on loan from the Assistive Technology Resource Center (ATRC).
When the effects of a student’s disability severely affect access to lecture material, transcription of lectures may be recommended by an appropriate SDC staff member as an accommodation/auxiliary aid. An SDC staff member must recommend this accommodation/auxiliary aid to the SDC director for approval, documenting the need appropriately.
Specific student requests must be made in a timely manner (at least 4 weeks prior to the need) for recommendation and approval so that appropriate personnel can be recruited and hired to deliver these services and to implement other arrangements, as needed.
Course Transcribers are considered an employee of the SDC and not the student. Course Transcribers are paid on an hourly basis.
Course Transcribers work from digital recordings of lectures. Transcriptions are usually provided within 48 – 72 hours, depending upon the nature of the course. SDC provides or arranges for the necessary equipment to record lectures. A student may be required to participate in the arrangements, as needed, while in class. Transcripts are usually delivered to the student electronically via email.
For more information about course transcriptions please see our Course Transcription Policy and Procedures.
Exceptions to the above policies may be made based on individual student need and circumstances only through the approval of the SDC director. Exceptions may be requested from the SDC director by the student, an SDC specialist, and/or other appropriate SDC staff.