Having access to class notes is integral to the learning process. All students, including students with disabilities, are encouraged to actively engage in class and taking notes is one of the many ways this occurs. However, some students with disabilities encounter barriers when taking handwritten notes in class. When this is the case, Disability Services (DS) collaborates with students to explore other options.
In many cases, DS recommends that students who require assistance with notetaking use their laptop to take notes or supplement their handwritten notes with an audio recording of class sessions. Students who record classes as an accommodation will be required to sign an audio recording agreement.
Students who use audio recording as an accommodation can request to use a Livescribe Smartpen, a relatively new technology that records everything you hear and write, linking the audio (your class session) to what you write (your notes). You will walk out of each class session with a complete audio recording, and you will have the option to play back your lectures at differing speeds, jump ahead in your notes, and much more. The Smartpen will increase your independence as a student and help you establish notetaking strategies that you can use after graduation from CC. We can loan a pen to you (while supplies last) and show you how to use the pen and the many ways it will assist you in being a more self-sufficient learner. Learn more about the Smartpen at www.livescribe.com.
When audio recording or taking notes on a laptop are not effective options for a student, DS will consult with the student to determine if peer notetaking services is an alternative that will better meet the student’s needs. With this accommodation, the student with a disability will receive a copy of another student's notes.
It is the student’s responsibility to inform faculty of any need for accommodation, including use of a laptop, audio recordings, and/or peer notetaking services. The student should provide faculty with a copy of the letter prepared by DS that lists approved accommodations. 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 notetaking services when it is an approved accommodation:
- Either the student or the faculty member can recruit a peer volunteer notetaker. It is important to do this as soon as possible so notetaking services can be provided in a timely manner. Professors recruiting the notetaker can either choose a student to serve as the notetaker or make an anonymous announcement regarding the notetaking position.
- When recruiting a volunteer, it may be helpful to talk about the benefits of becoming a notetaker: 1) notetakers are given a $50.00 gift card as a thank you for each block they serve as a volunteer; 2) students can list this as a volunteer experience on their resumes; and 3) notetakers often say the quality of their notes and their grades improve when serving as a notetaker.
- Volunteers need to stop by the DS office to complete a short notetaker registration form.
- DS provides notebooks with carbonless paper to notetakers, allowing them to make duplicate copies of their notes. At the end of each class session, the notetaker should give the duplicate set of notes to the student with a disability. Or, if the notetaker uses a computer to take notes, the notetaker can simply send the notes via email to the student with a disability.
- The notetaker is responsible for ensuring that the student with a disability receives notes for all class sessions. If the notetaker is absent from class, the notetaker can arrange for a substitute or can photocopy another student’s notes in the Learning Commons in Tutt Library that can then be shared with the student with a disability.
- Students receiving notes are responsible for notifying the faculty member and DS if the notes are of poor quality or not supplied on a regular basis. If necessary, a new notetaker may be recruited.
- It may be appropriate for faculty who use PowerPoint or other electronic means of delivering information for a course to provide copies of slides or other materials to the student using notetaking services.
- Students must attend class to receive notes unless an absence is excused.
- Both faculty and notetakers are asked to respect the privacy of the student with a disability by not identifying the student to others.
For additional information on notetaking services or other accommodations and services, please contact Disability Services.