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.
- Students who are registered with ADS and approved for this accommodation must pick
up their ADS memo and give it to their professors.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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:
- Using carbonless copy paper (available at ADS) so the notes can be provided at the
end of each class
- Using regular notebook paper and making hard copies
- Using regular notebook paper then scanning and emailing
- Typing notes and printing or emailing them
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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
- The ADS Assistive Technology Coordinator will provide you with your Smart Pen, along
with Smart Pen supplies and a starter Smart Pen notebook.
- You can purchase additional Smart Pen notebooks at the University store and other
- 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
- 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.