Apply Today

Note Taker Q&A

A Note to the Note Taker!

Thank you for providing note taking services for a student with a disability.  Some students have disabilities that prevent them from being able to take effective and complete notes during class.  These disabilities may include, but are not limited to, visual impairments, hearing impairments, specific learning disabilities, and some mobility impairments.  The note taker provides equal access to the classroom by providing quality notes of classroom lectures to students with disabilities.

It is very common for note takers who provide notes to students with disabilities to improve dramatically in their note taking skills as a result.  Following these guidelines will likely give you better notes to study yourself for the rest of your college career, and may even improve your GPA.

This handout will cover the following information:


Why do students with certain disabilities need note takers?

Students who are deaf/hard of hearing:

Both students who are deaf and students who are hard of hearing use note takers in the classroom, especially when the class is predominantly lecture.  In the classroom situation students who use oral or sign language interpreters must watch the interpreter at all times and therefore are unable to take notes.  To take his/her own notes, a student must interrupt his/her visual contact with the interpreter and vital information is missed.

Likewise, students who are hard of hearing, will miss some of what is being said if they try to take comprehensive notes.  These students, with or without hearing aids, must listen carefully and use such visual cues as lip reading and facial expressions to help them understand what is being said.

Although most students who are deaf or hard of hearing are capable of copying down assignments and copying from the board, it is best for these students to have the board work and assignments included with the lecture notes, so that all of the class information is together.  This will also avoid the problem of the students missing something that is said while looking down to write.  When computer assisted note taking is provided the deaf or hard of hearing student should take responsibility for drawings, diagrams, charts, etc which may be presented on the blackboard or overhead.


Students with learning disabilities

Students with diagnosed learning disabilities are average or above average in intelligence and are able to achieve academically when provided with such services as note taking, tutoring, oral tests, taped books, etc.

These students may have one or more disabilities affecting their ability to read, write, and/or spell.  They often cannot copy what they see (designs, letters, numbers, words) or write from oral dictation.  Handwriting may be illegible, and words may be spelled with little resemblance to the sight or sound of the word.  If students have reversal problems with numbers they might not be able to copy an assignment correctly.  Students with any of these disabilities find it difficult to take good notes in class, and for many of them even attempting to take notes interferes with ability to take in and understand what the professor is saying.


Students with visual impairments

Students with visual impairments may choose to have classroom notes translated into Braille or large print.  In some situations, students will take their own notes but may not be able to copy information from the board or other visual information (e.g., overheads, videos, etc.).


Students with mobility impairments

Students with mobility impairments may be physically unable to take notes (e.g., may not be able to manipulate a writing instrument) in the classroom or may not be able to take notes fast enough to keep up with the pace of the lecture.


What is my role as a note take in the classroom for a student with a disability?

The note taker provides equal access to the classroom for students with disabilities by producing quality notes of classroom lectures.

General Guidelines

Mechanics of Note Taking


What are some additional strategies and techniques I can use when note taking?

The specific note taking strategies/techniques will depend somewhat upon the nature of the course, the professor, and the note taker.  Listening is crucial to good notes. 

Listening Tips:


Listen to other students when they speak.  Include what they say in the class notes.  Do not leave points made during class discussion out of your notes.  However, indicate that it was a student comment by starting with “S-” and putting brackets around the portion that is a student comment.

Adapt the notes to each professor’s methods.

Check every tendency toward daydreaming.

Learn to store information while writing for later clarification in the notes.


How can I check the effectiveness of my notes?

You should solicit feedback on the quality of your notes from the student.  Some students may prefer to give you casual verbal feedback – some may give you written comments.


If I have more questions, who can I contact?

For any questions or comments, contact Disability Services.


What happens if the student doesn’t show up for class?

The note taker is not responsible for giving the student notes when the student is not in class.  The student is responsible for regularly attending class.  Students know that note takers are not a substitute for class attendance and they should not expect, nor be provided notes when they miss class.  The note taker is required to wait 15 minutes and if the student does not show, the note taker may leave and is required to fill out a no show form.  If you feel that the student is taking advantage of note taking services, contact the Director or Assistant Director in Disability Services.


What if I need to miss a class?

Regular attendance on the part of the note taker is an important factor in providing quality notes and continuity.  If you know ahead of time that you are going to be absent, if you are ill or an emergency arises that prevents you from attending class, please call the student and Disability Services as soon as possible so other arrangements can be made.


Your work on behalf of students with disabilities is greatly appreciated by the students themselves, and by Disability Services staff.  You are an important part of making SFA a place where excellence has many faces.

Top of page

Become a Student Academics & Research Students Alumni & Friends Faculty & Staff Arts & Athletics A-Z List