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Note-Taking Accommodations

Many AT note-taking assistance tools involve recording audio, such as during a lecture or class discussion. When considering which AT or other note-taking assistance accommodation is right for you, it is important to seek and obtain permission to record from the instructor. The instructor may have concerns about recording, such as ensuring the privacy of other students and control over their intellectual and instructional labor and materials. Thus, it is important to make space for this conversation so that all needs are met. In some cases, an instructor may request a legal recording agreement. This and other forms may be found on the Forms page. SDS supports students with approved SDS accommodations for recording and can facilitate this conversation.

Individuals eligible for permission to record lectures are responsible for bringing the needed recording equipment or software to class sessions. SDS provides a range of recording AT, outlined below, as well as traditional digital audio recorders for loan, if needed.

Note-taking assistance accommodations may include (but is not all-inclusive):

Assistive technology (AT)

AT can empower students to participate actively in class sessions while also recording notes to increase retention and for later reflection. SDS offers or suggests a number of AT tools, which students may experiment with to find what works best for them. These tools are growing in popularity and are used by a range of learners and educators at all levels. In addition to providing several of these tools to students with note-taking assistance accommodation at no cost to students, SDS also provides technical support when needed.

  • Sonocent Audio Note-taker is our recommended note-taking support tool. This note-taking assistance software 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. Research shows that using Sonocent increases course content retention and improves GPA! This software is provided by SDS, and you can download a free trial now. To learn more, click here to watch a video about Sonocent. 
  • Glean by Sonocent is one of the latest note-taking support tools. Working in the web browser, Glean includes an option to allow students to record audio from the browser, making it a great tool for online learning environments. Glean visualizes audio and allows students to insert icons and notes at selected points in the audio recording. SDS is currently testing this new software, and students may request a trial. To learn more about how Glean supports online learning and recorded lectures, read this blog post. Then click here to watch a video about Glean.
  • Livescribe SmartPen is a pen that combines audio recording with handwritten notes. The pen captures and converts handwritten notes and audio into digital format for access through digital devices. This hardware and software are provided by SDS. To learn more, click here to watch a video about Livescribe SmartPen.
  • Free or low-cost note-taking apps for your personal electronic device may make taking notes easier, more fun, and more useful. Most general note-taking apps are not provided or managed by SDS, but some are provided at no cost to students by UMBC. To learn more, click here for list of popular note-taking support apps curated by SDS.
Use of personal laptop

Individuals eligible for use of a laptop computer for note-taking are responsible for bringing a laptop to each class meeting. Students approved for the note-taking assistance accommodation 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, surfing the web in class, etc.) may have this accommodation revoked and an alternate provision implemented. SDS does not provide laptops, however laptops are available to borrow from AOK Library for limited periods of time.

Receiving outlines or notes from professor

Individuals who request and are eligible for access to materials prior to class are responsible for discussing what form of notes or materials may be available with their instructor. At the professor’s discretion, students may access these materials during office hours, electronically, or via hard copies. Instructors are not required to create notes/PowerPoint slides/outlines, and they may not be always be available prior to class.

Other note-taking assistance options

Individuals who cannot use the note-taking assistance options outlined above must have a discussion with a disability specialist to determine additional strategies. Depending on the requirements and availability of volunteers, a peer note-taker may be recruited and hired by SDS. However, if a peer note-taker cannot be secured in a timely manner, we will explore other options with you and your professor.

To learn more about requesting note-taking assistance accommodations, visit the Requesting Note-Taking Assistance page.