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AccessAbility Services Division of Student Affairs

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Accommodating Students with Disabilities - Volunteer Note Taking Service

Notetaking is an essential support service for students with disabilities.  A student with a disability may be provided with notetaking accommodations because they cannot hear the lecture, cannot see notes on the board, overheads, or their own paper, cannot process information fast enough to write down the lecture material and/or will need to visually see the notes in order to process the material, cannot write notes due to a physical disability, etc.

AccessAbility Services will be recruiting for potential Note Takers with the following methods:

INTRANET Recruitment Process

In-Class Announcement Recruitment Process



In-Class Announcement Recruitment Process

Instructors assist AccessAbility Services in recruiting a note taker for a student with a disability in their course.  Students are advised to deliver a note taking package to the instructor during office hours.  The note taking package consists of the following:

  • Letter to the Instructor
  • Suggested text for the announcement requesting volunteers entitled “Call for Volunteer Note Takers”.
  • Instruction cards for prospective Note Takers, including information on how to register and provide a sample copy of their lecture notes.

For your convenience this package is available to download: Note Taking Instructor Package

In addition you may add our Note Taker Recruitment Poster to you lecture slides or course website.

The following describes the assistance that we are asking you to provide:

At the beginning of the lecture, please read the “Call for Volunteer Note Takers” announcement to the class. We ask that you attempt to recruit three volunteers, and encourage them to sign up online as soon as possible.

Please note: To maintain confidentiality, please do not identify the name of the student who is registered with AccessAbility Services and/or their disability.

Once we have received the sample notes provided to us by the prospective Note Takers for the course, the student requesting notes will choose a note taker from the samples.  Once a note taker has been chosen, the volunteer Note Taker will be notified by email.

If no one volunteers:

  • Please ask again and remind the class that the student is unable to take notes independently or may need to supplement their own notes.  Without assistance, the student will not have adequate class notes.
  • Please remind the class that only students who have a documented disability and who have been approved for notetaking accommodations will receive the notes.
  • Outline the benefits of volunteering:
    Volunteering provides the individual with the opportunity to help others in their community.
    Volunteering provides a hands-on approach to self-assess their own notetaking skills. Often Note Takers report their notes are better because they are ensuring that their notes are comprehensive and organized for the student with a disability.
  • If no one volunteers, please make the announcement at the next class.
  • If the above does not work, please contact AccessAbility Services at 416-287-7560 or email and we can come to the class to make the announcement. You can also provide help in the form of notes and overheads.

In Class Announcement by an AccessAbility Services Representative

If after these initial recruitment methods, students registered with AccessAbility Services still require a note taker that meets their needs, we ask for your assistance in allowing one of our Outreach Team Volunteers to make an additional in-class announcement before your lecture begins. The purpose of this additional announcement is to provide students with more information about the benefits and responsibilities of being a note taker as well as the importance of this role.

Where possible, we will notify you in advance that a Outreach Team Volunteer will be coming at the beginning of your next lecture to make a 3 minute announcement. This may not always be possible and we therefore ask for your collaboration in allowing our volunteers to make a short announcement once they have introduced themselves to you before your lecture starts. All Outreach Team Volunteers will wear an ID badge.

A Outreach Team Volunteer may be scheduled to make an announcement in your class for any of the following reasons:

  1. If no students volunteered during your initial in-class announcement nor responded to our other recruitment methods.
  2. If students volunteered during your initial in-class announcement, they have not completed the online registration or provided sample notes.
  3. If students volunteered during your initial in-class announcement, however their sample notes do not meet the disability-related needs of the student who requires a note taker.

Students who are not selected as a note taker are still encouraged to volunteer in other courses as their notes could be extremely helpful to another student with different disability related needs. The following are examples that outline disability related reasons that students who require this service may consider when selecting their note taker:

  • If a student has low vision, the angle that a potential volunteer note taker writes at may be difficult for the student to read because of their type of vision loss. On the other hand, a student with a learning disability may not find the angle of the writing difficult to understand.
  • The amount of information on the page may seem overwhelming for some students, essentially an information overload and it is difficult for them to focus. This is often the case for students who have an acquired brain injury or a learning disability. For other students who have a different type of disability however, this may not present a problem and is in fact beneficial to them.

In our recent Note Taking survey to U of T at Scarborough students, 86% of respondents indicated that the most effective way to recruit volunteer Note Takers is through in-class announcements from their Professors. Thank you for performing an essential role to assist students with disabilities who are either unable to take notes independently or may need to supplement their own.

© University of Toronto Scarborough