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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 for note-taking assistance are typically eligible to record class audio and/or obtain copies of displayed lecture materials; such as PowerPoint slides, handouts and/or take photos of the board/screen. The notes and lecture materials provided are not a replacement for a student’s class attendance.

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

In cases where professors have made notes available to students, or when classes utilize interactive discussions  or hands-on lab, the note-taking accommodation may not be necessary due to curricular support already built into those classes. In all cases, it is important to speak with your professors about their course expectations, course content delivery and to learn how to best implement your accommodations.

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

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

1. Sonocent Audio Note-taker is our preferred and recommended note-taking support. It is note-taking assistance software that allows students to take active and accurate notes. The program will record lectures/discussions with your chosen device and allow you to create and  edit notes on your computer. We encourage all SDS students to try Sonocent, when they need note-taking assistance. Research shows that using it increases course content retention and improve GPAs. To learn more about Sonocent click on What is Sonocent? You can download a free trial now!

2. 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 software and smartpens are provided by SDS.

3. Free or Low Cost Note-taking Apps on your device

2. 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 if approved for the note-taking assistance accommodation. 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 if it is disruptive to the learning environment or professor.

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 if needed. Recording the class will allow students to supplement their own notes with information they may have missed during the lecture. When attempting to create notes independently, deeper understanding and retention of material is likely. In most classes, audio recording is only allowed as an approved SDS accommodation. A legal audio recording agreement may be required.

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 and may not be always be available/prepared prior to class.

Receiving notes from an SDS identified peer note-taker

Individuals who cannot use the note-taking assistance outlined above and require a for peer note-taker 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.