Some students may experience difficulty taking class notes due to their disability. There are several ways that you can help students access note-taking services and supplement their notes.
Our note-taking services help connect students with volunteer note-takers. As an instructor, you can support this process by including a request for students to volunteer as note-takers on your course syllabi. Students can sign up on the Student Portal and learn more about this process on the Note-Taking Services page.
To help you recruit student volunteers as note-takers in a class, we can provide information on an overhead slide, PowerPoint or a note-taking recruitment PDF.
In some instances, we may contact you to discuss or confirm the presence of an assigned note-taker in your class. In these circumstances, you may need to ensure that there is a seat in the class available to the assigned note-taker.
Here are some common note-taking supports that may help students in your course(s). Students with disabilities may need one or more of the following accommodation options in lectures, tutorials, seminars or any other learning environment:
- Recording lectures with a digital recorder
- Providing copies of overhead slides, PowerPoint slides and/or handouts in advance of a lecture
- Offering lecture outlines online before class
In some cases, you may wish to provide note-taking alternatives for all students in your course(s). Here are some options for you to consider.
- Provide digital notes for the entire class through Avenue to Learn.
- Alternatively, you can explore options for podcasting lectures.
Please refer to the MacPherson Institute for more information about universal instructional curriculum design.
If you provide these note-taking alternatives for your course(s), then SAS note-taking services aren’t necessary. If you still receive an auto-generated email request seeking a note-taker for one of these courses, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
- Your course already provides notes or is podcasted (i.e., a note-taker is not required)
- Course subject and code (i.e., ANTHRO 2X03)
- Your name (instructor)
Note: These emails are automatically generated after a student requests notes for a course. Please be kind in your correspondence.
This section on recording lectures applies to any student who needs to record a whole lecture or series of lectures in class as an accommodation. Students must have permission to record any sessions in your class.
Note: Lecture recordings fall under McMaster’s copyright and recording policy.
- If a student needs to record lectures as an accommodation, they must first discuss the need for this accommodation with their Student Accessibility Services program coordinator.
- If a student has an accommodation to record lectures, they should discuss this accommodation with every instructor for their classes at the beginning of the term.
- There are a variety of methods for recording a lecture (and subsequently composing lecture notes). Students may discuss options with their Student Accessibility Services program coordinator or ask for a referral to the assistive technologist to consider alternatives.
- You maintain ownership of your lecture as the instructor.
- A student must have an approved accommodation to record lectures, with the exception of recording a portion of a lecture for personal study (unless that recording falls within one of the other exceptions in the Copyright Act).
- Student participation may be recorded without their knowledge. This could result in personal information being recorded.
- Students should contact their instructor if they have any privacy concerns about others recording a lecture or tutorial they’re participating in.
- Students aren’t obligated to inform anyone in the class (other than their instructor) that they need to record the instructor’s lecture(s) due to their disability.
- Recorded lecture material may be used for a student’s learning purposes only. Students can’t share recorded content with anyone (i.e., classmates, friends) or upload it to the Internet without your permission.
Alternate text formats
Students with disabilities may require course content in alternate text formats. For example, students with a print disability (i.e., students who can’t read, see or manipulate print on paper) may require content in Braille or a digital format like MP3s, PDFs or Word documents.
There are multiple factors that impact which types of alternate text formats will work for a student, including their individual needs, the nature of their disability and the subject matter of a particular course. It’s important to keep this in mind when selecting course content and textbooks.
- For example, a print text can be converted into many formats, including — but not limited to — Braille, PDF, Kurzweil, MP3 and large print.
- However, electronic versions are preferred because it’s easier to convert them into other formats like large print, Braille and Kurzweil.
As a general best practice in universal course design, it’s important to use a text that already exists in alternate format(s) whenever possible.
Regardless of the original text format, any work to convert content to another format can take a significant amount of time and human intervention. We strongly recommend that you make content and textbook decisions early, especially in cases where students may require alternate versions.
McMaster Library Accessibility Services (LAS)
Students can arrange for alternate text formats through Library Accessibility Services. However, this process can take a significant amount of time. For example, Braille requests can take up to three months of more.
It’s important that you provide textbook lists as early as possible to allow sufficient time for necessary alternate text requests. If you have questions about this process, you can contact email@example.com.