Students with a variety of disabilities may require assistance with capturing information presented in the classroom. Some students may not be able to write notes because of a physical limitation. Other students may have difficulty processing information presented orally and then generating a written synopsis. Students who lip read or have an interpreter in class must watch the interpreter or speaker and cannot look down to write notes without missing information. In these cases, the student needs another method of collecting information.
In most cases, the recommended method for capturing information presented in class is tape recording. A tape recording is obviously the most accurate and complete way to collect information from the classroom. Tape recording also gives the student the opportunity to process the information independently, but at his/her own pace and with appropriate technological aids.
In other classes, tape recording may not be a satisfactory accommodation either because of the student's disability (deaf, hard of hearing) or because of the highly visual nature of the lecture format (visual aids, problems written on the board, etc.) In these classes, having a note taker is the most practical and useful solution.
Most often, note taking is accomplished by having classmates volunteer to share their notes. At least two volunteers should be identified so that the student has a more complete set of notes and to cover instances when one volunteer is absent. The Student Disability Services office can provide pressure sensitive note taking paper. The faculty should check the notes for accuracy, legibility and completeness after each class. Good quality notes are essential to student success.
Note taking as an accommodation is intended to provide or supplement what the student would do for him/herself minus the disability. Note taking is not intended to give the student an unfair advantage by providing information that the student would not have gotten on his/her own, such as when the student is absent from class.
Discuss with the student privately how to arrange note taking and how to deliver the notes. Note takers may be recruited by the student or by the faculty member. It is very important to maintain the student's confidentiality unless the student agrees to be identified to the note takers.
Tips for facilitating better notes
1. Provide an outline of the lecture at the beginning of class.
2. Write any unusual vocabulary, names, foreign terms, etc. on the board.
3. Provide detailed assignment sheets, including due dates, or write assignments on the board.
4. Provide printed copies of visual aids whenever possible.
5. Speak clearly. Verbally identify examples, digressions, topic changes, etc.
6. Check videos for closed captioning or find out if a transcript is available.
7. If volunteer note taking is not sufficient for your course, please contact Student Disability Services to explore other options.
“I have been asked to identify two volunteer notetakers in this class. The notetakers will be provided with notetaking paper to facilitate the process. This special paper provides a copy for the notetaker to keep and a copy to share. Your notes will not reflect on your grade in this course, but I may review the notes for accuracy before sharing them with others. Please see me immediately after class if you are willing to serve as a notetaker this semester.”