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Note-Taking Assistance

UMBC’s Office of Student Disability Services (SDS) engages in an interactive process with each student and reviews requests for accommodations on an individualized, case-by-case basis. Depending on the nature and functional limitations of a student’s documented disability, the student may be eligible for note-taking assistance.

SDS Note-taking Assistance is an accommodation that provides access to course lectures for students whose documented disability affects their ability to take notes. Students eligible to request note-taking assistance may also be eligible to record class audio and/or obtain copes of displayed lecture materials; such as PowerPoint slides and prepared lecture exhibits or handouts. The notes and lecture materials provided are not meant to be a replacement for a student’s own notes (unless a student is unable, due to the effects of a disability, to take any notes at all) notes are also not a substitute for class attendance.

Many discussion-based courses and courses where class notes have been uploaded to Blackboard do not require students to keep extensive notes in the same way that large lecture classes might.

In the cases where professors have made notes available to students, or when certain classes more heavily favor a discussion mode or hands-on lab, the note-taking accommodation may not be necessary due to curricular support already built into those classes. In all cases, speak with each of your professors about their course expectations and to learn how to best implement your accommodation for the specific course.

Note-taking Assistance may include but are not all inclusive:

Use of Assistive Technology (i.e., Sonocent Audio Note-taker, LiveScribe SmartPen)

Sonocent Audio Note-taker is note-taking assistance software that allows students to take better notes. The program will record lectures/discussions with your own device and allow you to edit notes on your computer. We encourage students to consider using Sonocent, a note-taking assistance software, instead of peer note-taking. Sonocent is the preferred method of note-taking assistance. To learn more about Sonocent click on What is Sonocent?

Livescribe SmartPen is a pen that combines audio recording with handwritten notes. The pen captures and convert handwritten notes and audio into digital format for access through digital devices (i.e., tablets, smartphones, computers). To learn more about Livescribe SmartPen click on Introduction to SmartPens.

Sonocent and smartpens are available through the SDS Assistive Technology Specialist. Please contact for a demo.

Use of a Personal Laptop

Individuals who are eligible for use of a laptop computer for note-taking are responsible for bringing a laptop to each class/meeting. Students are only permitted to use appropriate note-taking programs/software during class. Students found to be misusing this accommodation (i.e., using the internet when not permitted or web surfing in class) may have this accommodation revoked and an alternate provision implemented.

Permission to audio record classes

Individuals who are eligible for audio recording of lectures are responsible for bringing an audio recording device to each class/meeting. SDS has digital recorders to loan. Recording the class will allow students to supplement their notes with information they may have missed during the lecture. When attempting to create notes independently, deeper understanding and retention of material is likely.

Receive outlines or notes from professor (if appropriate)

Individuals who request and are eligible for access to materials prior to class are responsible for discussing what form of notes/materials may be available with their instructor and how access to materials will be achieved. Access to such materials may occur by reviewing materials during office hours, may be shared electronically, or by hard copy. Instructors may use a personal version of notes as an outline, which may or may not be disseminated during lecture. Instructors are not required to create Notes/Power Points/outlines.

Receiving notes from an SDS identified peer note-taker

Individuals who are eligible for peer note-takers must indicate in the Semester Accommodation Request the classes they need note-taking assistance in. The Note-taker Coordinator receives the request and will recruit peer note-takers through the class roster and faculty member. Note-takers must be assigned and “hired” for this role through SDS. It is rare that students do not volunteer to offer note-taking support to their peers. However, if we cannot secure a note-taker for you, in a timely manner, we will  explore additional options for this accommodation with you and your professor.