Center for Disability Services in need of classroom note takers

A student went to class on time only to realize that she would not be able to understand a single thing discussed that day.

This was the dilemma that faced Lisa Roush on Monday when her interpreter was late. Roush is deaf.

She was able to keep up, however, thanks to a student who offered to write down summaries of what the teacher was saying. That student was not even a part of the official note-taking program the Center for Disability Services provides.

Student volunteerism sustains the program. However, not enough students volunteer.

According to program coordinator Natalie Ferguson, 131 students who need note takers are attending class without one.

Sarah Elliott, a volunteer, said that at one point, the center was so desperate for note takers that they trained and hired someone for the task.

“There is no reason why you should have to hire an outside person when there are students taking notes that could [be shared],” she said.

Joe Pete Wilson, the center’s director, said his budget is already tight. The center spends close to all of its $130,000 on sign-language interpreters.

Writing on special carbon paper, the volunteers take notes as usual, albeit with attention to readability, and give a copy to the student in need, according to Elliott. Note takers can also photocopy their notes and drop them off at the center.

Roush has three classes, each with an assigned scribe. She said she needs these students because if she spends class with her head down, writing notes, she misses what her interpreter is translating.

Elliott said some students might not want to be note takers because of the requirements.

A note taker must attend class every day and arrange for someone else to take notes if he or she is absent.

Elliott also cited fear as a possible note-taking deterrent. Some students might be afraid of writing incorrect notes that could hurt a student’s grade. However, this fear is unfounded and should not stop a student from volunteering, she said.

Elliott took notes for three students in her Calculus II class last spring. This semester, she is taking notes for a student in her biology 1000 class.

“I can’t imagine sitting through a class as difficult as calc or bio” and not taking notes, she said.

Elliot said the process was “not time-consuming at all,” and she accepted compensation last spring. This semester, she is taking notes for free.

“I can’t imagine passing a class without having sufficient and adequate notes,” she said.

The center provides note takers for deaf students as well as students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, and psychological disorders, such as depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder, said Wilson.

Ferguson said the best way to become a note taker is to pay attention in class.

“Every instructor should be announcing it two or three times until someone has volunteered,” she said.

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Other assistance the Center for Disability Services provides

*Liaison between student and faculty or staff *Textbooks and printed material recorded onto cassettes or transcribed into Braille *Arrange for classroom accessibility *Arrange for exam accommodations *Provide interpreters or real time caption stenographers for the Deaf or Hard of Hearing *Installs the following software in any lab on campus temporarily:Jaws – reads the computer screen out loudDragon – allows students to dictate papersZoom text – enlarges everything on the screenKurzwile – scans, recognizes and reads textbooks*Provide training on the use adaptive computer technology *General and academic advising related to disability *Coordinate with academic and departmental advisors regarding program goals*Investigation of academic strengths and weaknesses *Develop effective learning strategies *Assistance with admissions, registration and graduation *Orientation to the campus *Scholarship information *Referrals to campus and community services *Guidelines for obtaining the center’s services *Coordinate reasonable accommodations of disability-related limitations with faculty and staff

For more information, visit the center in Union Room 162, call the center at 581-5020 or go online to http://disability.utah.edu.

Information obtained from the Web site and from Geoffrey Skousen, center technology specialist.

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