Note-Taking Assistance

The following policies and procedures have been developed by Accessibility and Disability Services to guide students who are approved for note-taking assistance as an accommodation. Notes are intended for a student’s personal study use only and are not to be shared with other individuals. This accommodation is not considered a substitute for a student’s class attendance or participation. If notes are available online or from the instructor, note-taking assistance may not be indicated. You should contact your ADS specialist to discuss your needs or if you have any questions.

  1. Students who are registered with ADS and approved for this accommodation must pick up their ADS memo and give it to their professors.
  2. As early as possible in the semester, discuss with your professor how the note-taking accommodation will be implemented in the course. Ask the professor to make the note taker announcement in class (as directed in the ADS memo) or ask if the professor can ask a specific student, as appropriate. If you determine that you will not need note-taking assistance in the course, or if you decide to ask a classmate yourself to be your note taker, let the professor know that he or she will not need to make the announcement. In order for you to receive your accommodations you must give your ADS memo to your professor, even if you choose to find a note taker on your own.
  3. In class, your professor should read the announcement specified in the ADS memo asking for a note taker, or ask a specific student to provide the notes. The professor should maintain confidentiality by not disclosing your name to the class. If confidentiality is not maintained, please let ADS know.
  4. The professor should promote communication between you and the note taker within a week after making the announcement. If your professor does not notify you that a note taker has been identified, ask the professor to make another announcement or to approach a specific student who may be interested. If a note taker has not been identified within two class periods after your initial request, contact your ADS specialist for assistance.
  5. Your professor should refer the note taker to our office to complete the necessary paperwork to receive a stipend at the end of the semester.
  6. You and your note taker should arrange a system to provide you with notes within 48 hours of the class. Possible options for the note taker include:
    1. Using carbonless copy paper (available at ADS) so the notes can be provided at the end of each class
    2. Using regular notebook paper and making hard copies
    3. Using regular notebook paper then scanning and emailing
    4. Typing notes and printing or emailing them
  7. If you do not receive your notes within 48 hours of the class, contact your note taker. If this does not resolve the problem, contact your ADS specialist as soon as possible.
  8. Attend each class. It is recommended that you also take your own notes to the extent you can. If you must miss class, inform your note taker in advance when an absence is predictable. If you have unexcused absences from class, your note-taking accommodation may be suspended until you meet with your ADS specialist and develop a plan to reinstate the accommodation. If you withdraw from the course, notify ADS immediately.
  9. Determine with your note taker how note taking will be handled if he or she must be absent. (e.g., make prior arrangements with another classmate to share his/her notes).
  10. If you believe your notes are insufficient or lacking in some way, discuss the problem with your note taker. If the problem continues, contact your ADS specialist. It is important that you notify ADS as soon as possible so your specialist can work with you to find a solution.

Smart Pen for Note-Taking

Another note-taking accommodation is borrowing a Smart Pen from ADS and using it to take your notes. A Smart Pen is a device that audio-records lectures as notes are written on special Smart Pen paper. When reviewing notes later, the Smart Pen can be tapped on the Smart Paper to play back the audio-recording from the exact moment that the note was written. During playback, the speed and volume of the recording can be adjusted.  You can also add new notes that will sync with a computer. Notes can be uploaded to a computer using Echo Desktop.

To be approved to use a smart pen for taking notes, this accommodation must be specified on your ADS memo. You must inform your professor directly that you will be using a Smart Pen to record lectures. A good time to do this is when you give your professor your ADS memo. Maryland law requires that you inform a person that you will be recording him or her, so it is very important that you do this prior to any recording. Also, you are not allowed to share the recordings or post them online.

Although you may be approved to use a Smart Pen as an accommodation, it may not be appropriate for all classes, such as those that involve student discussion of sensitive subject material. If this is the case, you should speak with your ADS specialist to discuss alternatives. This should be done as early as possible in the semester.

Checking Out a Smart Pen

  1. The ADS Assistive Technology Coordinator will provide you with your Smart Pen, along with Smart Pen supplies and a starter Smart Pen notebook.
  2. You can purchase additional Smart Pen notebooks at the University store and other major retailers.
  3. The Assistive Technology Coordinator will train you on how to use the Smart Pen and have you complete the ADS Equipment Loan Form and Agreement for Recording Lectures at TU.
  4. You must return your borrowed Smart Pen and supplies to ADS at the end of the each semester. You can check out a Smart Pen every semester.

Sonocent Audio Note-taker

Another note-taking option is Sonocent Audio Note-taker, which must be approved as an accommodation on your ADS memo. Sonocent Audio Note-taker is a note-taking assistance software program that allows students to take active and accurate notes. The program enables you to audio record class lectures with your chosen device and then create and edit notes on your computer. Features allow you to turn your audio recording into visual blocks. Notes can then be structured using colored highlighting, and combined with images and text notes. Access to the Sonocent Audio Note-taker is arranged through the ADS Assistive Technology Coordinator.