In some circumstances, a student may require the use of a note taker in class. This would be officially requested through a Student Accommodation Letters. Note takers are needed for a number of reasons:
- Deaf or Hard of Hearing Students: Due to the nature of the accommodations needed for a student with hearing loss, it is very difficult to take notes themselves. Working with a Captionist or an Interpreter requires constant visual contact, making the process of looking down to take notes nearly impossible.
- Students with Learning Disorders: In some situations, students may have a learning disorder that affects either their receptive skills (listening, decoding, processing, etc.) or their expressive skills (processing, coding, writing, etc.) which make taking notes very difficult. These students are still encouraged to take their own notes in class but use the notes from a note taker to compare and ensure that they are getting the information correct.
- Students with ADD/ADHD: For students with attention difficulties, it is very hard to maintain the necessary "split attention" required for note taking ("split attention" is the ability to listen to lecture, process the information, write out the information in the notes, all while still staying up with the material being spoken). For many students with attention difficulties, it is more common that they use "single focus attention" where they will listen to a portion of the lecture, then turn their focus entirely to their notes to write down as much as they can remember, meanwhile, all other lecture material presented while they write is lost.
- Students with Mobility, Health, or Systemic Disorders: For a student with a Mobility, Health, or Systemic disorder, there may be accompanying fine motor skill loss which makes writing by hand either difficult or impossible. Having a note taker available allows the student to focus on the material as it is presented in class.
Suggested Procedure for Providing Note takersPlease read below for the suggested steps for providing a note taker:
- After a student has requested a note taker through a Student Accommodation Letter, it is recommended that the faculty member make an announcement to the class. A suggestion for how to phrase the request is as follows: "I would like to ask for a volunteer from the class who: takes good notes, has good attendance, and is willing to provide a copy of their class notes with a student in the class with a documented disability." Instructors should encourage interested students to contact the Disability Services Office at their earliest convenience. PLEASE DO NOT IDENTIFY THE STUDENT IN YOUR ANNOUNCEMENT.
- The Disability Services Office will also send an email to the students enrolled in the course when a note taker has been requested. Students are encouraged to reply to the email if they wish to serve as a note taker for the course.
- Note takers may come by the Disability Services Office in Room E-108 to have their notes photocopied or submit their notes via email. All notes will be sent to the student from the Disability Services Office to maintain the students' confidentiality.
The student with a disability may or may not continue taking notes for themselves. As mentioned above, note takers are requested in a number of situations, which may not always be clearly apparent.
Note takers are NOT a substitute for attending class. A student with a note taker should NOT receive notes for any missed classes. The exception to this is where the student has to miss the class for reasons DIRECTLY related to their disability. Students are expected to maintain clear communication with faculty regarding absences. If a question should arise, please consult with the Director for Disability Services.
While it is the responsibility of the student to alert the instructor in situations where there is any concern around the level or quality of an accommodation, it is always a good practice to "check in" with the student shortly after instituting an accommodation. This ensures that not only is the accommodation being provided and used appropriately, but also that the accommodation is appropriate (notes are readable, of good quality, being provided in a timely manner, etc.).
Main Campus Building Room E108
300 The Fenway
Boston, MA 02115
For more information regarding Disability Services, please contact:
Director of Disability Services
For appointments, call 617-521-2474.