UW faces a deficit of notetakers

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Jansher Saeed

AccessAbility Services recently notified students with disabilities about the unavailability of a notetaker six weeks into the fall term according to Reddit user u/one-too-manyof, who posted on the University of Waterloo’s subreddit, r/uwaterloo.

The university said it was unable to comment on individual circumstances for privacy reasons.

 Notetaking service by AccessAbility Services is offered to students who are registered with a documented disability.  

The average length of time to complete a request for a notetaker is about two to three weeks, but they don’t guarantee a match, nor the quality or consistency of the notes. 

“Students are informed upon registration that the University cannot guarantee notetaking services for every class, though a match is secured in 70 per cent of cases. It is for this reason, that students are encouraged to utilize assistive technologies to aid with their notetaking upon registration,” said Matthew Grant, Director of Media Relations at the University of Waterloo. 

AccessAbility Services also have an option to use technologies as an alternative and runs a loan program for students to assist if they can’t afford the same.

“Supplementing a student’s notes can take the form of pairing them with a volunteer notetaker or technology that can be provided to record and transcribe a lecture. They can also receive demonstrations on the latest assistive technologies for notetaking,” said Grant.

AccessAbility Services has daily drop-in support for students who would like to develop strategies to help enhance their notetaking skills which are tailored to their program and disability.

“I’m going take your advice to record all lectures and spend hours typing them out myself and have your staff magically teach me how take better notes, cause I obviously learned nothing during 12 yrs of special education,” said u/one-too-manyof on Reddit. 

The student was then advised to make use of other ways to succeed in, which included meeting with their Adaptive Educational Technologist, to learn how technology can help with notetaking or their Learning Strategist, to discuss notetaking strategies. 

“I’ve gotten four emails asking me to sign up for my classes. They’re definitely trying to get you a notetaker but there’s only so much they can do without paying someone to do it for you,” commented u/mywaterloooaccount on the post. 

Since taking notes is a volunteer position, students feel that if they received a stipend or benefits, then interest would increase.

“I would definitely become a notetaker if I was paid to do so for the course in the term,” a third-year UW student, who didn’t want to be named, said. The user did not want to comment or share any other experiences on the matter. Students are encouraged to contact AccessAbility Services if they have any questions or concerns about the accommodations. If you would like to volunteer as a notetaker, contact AccessAbility Services at notetaking@uwaterloo.ca.

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