Volunteer note-taking services
If you have trouble taking class notes due to difficulty concentrating, writing, accessing verbal information, chronic pain or other issues, you can request volunteer note-taking services.
If you would like to volunteer as a note-taker, please see below.
Request volunteer note-taking
Responsibility of Students Registered with Accessibility Services
The note-taking accommodations is volunteer based. As a result, there is no guarantee that all of your classes will have a volunteer note-taker.
- At the beginning of each semester, provide a Letter of Accommodation to your professors.
- Go online to request volunteer notetaking as soon as possible.
- If notes are not available online within 48 hours, please reach out to email@example.com.
- If after a month notes are not available, please reach out to your Accessibility Advisor to see what alternative forms of accommodations can be made in lieu of note-taking.
- Provide feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org if notes are inconsistent.
Responsibility of Accessibility Services
- To be a point of contact between the students registered with Accessibility Services, the volunteer note-taker, and the professor.
- The Accommodations Administrator and the Program Assistant will send out weekly emails to Professors, Course Instructors, and Teaching Assistants asking them to make an in-class announcement to recruit volunteer note-takers.
- Provide feedback to volunteer note-takers on how the students used their notes or how the notes can be made more accessible.
Volunteer to become a note-taker
Welcome to volunteer note-taking. We are looking for committed volunteer note-takers to provide thorough, comprehensive class notes to students registered with Accessibility Services. Note-taking is one of the most common accommodations given to students registered with the service. Volunteer note-taking is not meant to replace students attending class, rather it acts as a complementary service. Your notes will be used by students registered with our services whose disability affects their ability to take notes.
Why Volunteer? It has been shown that students who volunteer as a note-taker for Accessibility Services improve their own note-taking skills. If you volunteer for 3 or more courses and submit 80% of the notes, you are also eligible to add volunteer note-taking to your co-curricular record. Most importantly, you will make class notes and course materials accessible for students registered with this service.
Volunteer Note-taker Responsibilities:
As a volunteer note-taker, you should:
- Upload your notes within 24-48 hours after each class to Accessibility Services note-taking portal. If you are not able to upload your notes in this timeframe, please email email@example.com.
- If you are experiencing technical issues logging into our system, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- If you are no longer able to take notes or provide for a course, contact email@example.com. It is your responsibility to let us know so we can find a replacement as soon as possible.
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Thank you for volunteering copies of your class notes! You are helping your fellow students to overcome obstacles and reach their academic goals.
Volunteering as a note-taker is easy:
- Attend classes regularly and continue to take lecture notes
- Consistently upload your notes to our secure website
- Inform us if you drop any classes
It’s that simple! You will receive a Certificate of Appreciation upon the completion of the term (upon request).
Note-taking procedures for volunteers
Lecture based courses
For lecture-base courses, you may want to adapt the Cornell Note-taking System.
Every student has their own way of taking notes. We encourage note-takers to aim to use a standard format so that other students can understand the content.
Some good practices include:
- Use correct spelling for important terms. If you are unsure of how a word is spelled, write “sp?” next to the words so students can check at a later time.
- Avoid uncommon short-hands or acronyms unless you explain in your notes.
- Underline terms and definitions that instructors emphasize (i.e., if the instructor repeats it, write it on the board, etc.).
- Include questions or comments mentioned in the slide deck.
- If you are providing annotations or notes that correspond with slides, clearly indicate the slide title or number so it’s easy to cross reference.
- Review your notes after class and fill in any gaps or fix errors before uploading (this is good practice for your own review).
Seminars and Tutorials:
- Provide key ideas and prompts from the class discussion.
- Provide examples the instructor uses to explain core concepts.
- Provide any instructions for upcoming assignments, midterms, or exams.
- Provide references on readings as discussed by the professor (i.e. explanations on readings)
- Notes are not meant to provide example on individual experience in seminar courses
- Provide key terms – examples, vocabulary, and materials covered in the class.
- Provide instructions for oral comprehension, quizzes, and composition evaluations.
- Provide course materials on topics covered in labs including instructions, and important information. This would include safety conduct, writing lab reports, procedural information, etc.
- Avoid sharing your work or work intended for evaluation (e.g. sharing lab reports).
In addition to the tips listed above, notes should also contain the following information:
- Date of class
- Course code and section (e.g., ECO100-H LEC101)
- Page numbers
- Headings when applicable
- Handwritten notes should be written as legibly as possible.
- Handwritten notes can be uploaded in the following formats: PDF, JPEG, JPG, BMP, PNG, RAR, and TIF. If you are uploading a JPEG file, please make sure that the image is clear.
- Volunteer note-takers can also scan and upload their notes at our office located at 455 Spadina Avenue, 4th floor, suite 400.
- There are also multiple smartphone applications that you can use to scan and upload your notes into our system.
- Typed Notes can be uploaded using the following formats: PPT, PPTX, DOCX, TXT, RFT, XLSX.
When uploading your notes onto the Note-taking Portal, please keep the following in mind:
- You can upload only 10 mb at a time.
- File names can be only 30 characters in length.
- Please include the course code and lecture number, for example – ECO201Y1 DD-MM-YY.
CCR and note-taking
Volunteer Note-taking, Co-Curricular Record and Certificate of Recognition
The Co-Curricular Record (CCR) is validated once a year on June 15. The onus is on the volunteer note-taker to initiate this process. To initiate the process, you can go to the “Opportunity Directory” or “Manage Co-Curricular Record Tab” and select “Add Position to My Record.”
- CCR activity cannot be backdated so please be cognizant of the deadlines.
- The Accommodations Administrator has the right to revoke CCR activity for the following reasons: the notes uploaded were poor quality, notes were not consistently uploaded, it is suspected that the notes were plagiarized, and/or notes have not been uploaded within the 24-48 hours time period.
To request your Certificate of Recognition, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with the following details.
- Full name
- Student number and UTORid
- The course(s) that you volunteered for
- The academic year of the course(s) (e.g., Fall 2016, 2016-2017 academic term, etc.)
Please note: Depending on when you submit the request it could take 1 to 2 weeks to create the certificate.
Information for Staff & Faculty
Responsibility of Professors/Teaching Staff (Best practices)
Accommodations provide equitable access for students with disabilities to meet the academic standards of their programs. Accommodations depend on the impact of the disability within a program of study.
- In keeping with universal design ideals, all students would benefit from access to course PowerPoints for note-taking purposes. When possible, PowerPoints should be posted in advance of class. This allows students with note-taking challenges to download lectures ahead of time and can assist in having more complete notes.
- Provides accommodations as outlined in the Letter of Accommodations – make an in-class announcement to recruit new volunteer note-takers. If instructors feel as though they cannot accommodate volunteer note-taking due to the structure of the class, they are to contact Accessibility Services to discuss what accommodations would be reasonable.
- While most students will request volunteer note-taking at the beginning of the year, there are always temporary disabilities and disability flares. As a result, there might be requests later in the term for note-taking.
- More information on U of T policies regarding Academic Accommodations.