Having access to class notes can be integral to the learning process. All students are encouraged to actively engage in class, and taking notes is one of the many ways this occurs. However, some students with disabilities may need support in taking or accessing class notes. When this is the case, Accessibility Resources collaborates with students approved for note-taking support to explore accommodation options.
Commonly used accommodations for notetaking include:
- Use of a computer to take notes
- Audio recorded class sessions to supplement a student’s own notes, when appropriate for a class (Students who record classes as an accommodation will be required to sign an “Audio Recorded Class Sessions Agreement” that states, along with other stipulations, that the recordings will be used for the student’s own academic purposes and that the student will not share the recordings with others.)
- Peer note-taking support, where students with disabilities supplement their notes with a copy of another student's notes
- Copies of electronic presentations (e.g., PowerPoint slides), when appropriate for a class
It is the student’s responsibility to inform faculty of any need for accommodation, including those related to note taking. The student should submit a request for faculty notification of approved accommodations needed for each class via AR Online Services. This should be done prior to the beginning of a block or early enough for faculty to implement reasonable accommodations.
Students and faculty should follow the steps below to implement peer note-taking support when it is an approved accommodation:
- Either the student or the faculty member can recruit a student volunteer to share notes.
- There are several ways to recruit a student volunteer: 1) the faculty member or the student with a disability may already know of a student in class who takes good notes and who may be willing to share them; 2) after observing students for the first couple of days, the faculty member may have a better idea of a student who appears to be taking good notes and can ask if that student is willing to share notes with the student with a disability; or 3) the faculty member, without identifying the student with a disability, can ask for a volunteer via an announcement in class or an email to students in the class.
- When recruiting a volunteer, it may be helpful to talk about the benefits of sharing notes: 1) volunteers are given a $50.00 gift card at the end of the block; 2) students can list this as a volunteer experience on their resumes; and 3) volunteers often say the quality of their notes and their grades improve when serving in this role.
- If the faculty member recruits the volunteer, the faculty member should share the name of the volunteer with the student receiving the notes and Accessibility Resources.
- If the student with a disability recruits the volunteer, the student should share the name of the volunteer with the professor and Accessibility Resources.
- The student sharing notes needs to get in touch with Accessibility Resources to sign up as a volunteer.
- Class notes can be provided to the student with a disability in several ways: 1) the volunteer can make a photocopy of the notes; 2) Accessibility Resources can provide the volunteer with carbonless paper that can be used to make a duplicate set of the notes; and 3) volunteers who use a computer to take notes can provide the notes electronically.
- The volunteer is responsible for ensuring that the student with a disability receives notes for all class sessions. If the volunteer is absent from class, the volunteer can arrange for a substitute or can photocopy another student’s notes that can then be shared with the student with a disability.
- Students receiving notes are responsible for notifying the faculty member and Accessibility Resources if the notes are of poor quality and/or not supplied on a regular basis. If needed, a new volunteer may be recruited.
- Students must attend class to receive notes unless an absence is excused.
- Volunteers are asked to respect the privacy of the student with a disability by not identifying the student to others.
- If there are no peers in the class who volunteer to share notes, the professor and/or the student with a disability should contact Accessibility Resources for assistance.
For additional information on note-taking support or other accommodations and services, please contact Accessibility Resources.