The Challenge of Note Taking
Note taking is one of the most challenging accommodations to provide, and the Disability Resource Center at Missouri State University was struggling to find a consistently effective solution to the problem. The department was relying heavily on digital recorders and smart pens, as well as a network of peer note takers, employed by the school to take notes on behalf of other students. However, each of these solutions brought with it its own set of challenges:
Peer Notes
The archaic peer note taking system is notoriously difficult to manage, with a huge administrative burden placed on disability services departments in order to recruit and manage note takers, who are then often unreliable and provide notes of varying quality. At Missouri State this was no exception. Note takers were often sick, or failed to show up to class. Some provided notes of varying quality, which left students questioning if the information provided was factually correct, or even if the most important information was actually recorded. Accessibility of notes was also an issue; the university faced instances of notetakers sharing a picture of their notes to students using screen readers, making the notes inaccessible.
Digital Recorders and Smart Pens
When it comes to assistive tech, digital recorders are simply outdated, and something Missouri State students were very reluctant to use. They realised that listening back to an hour-long recording of a lecture wasn’t equitable to learning, and didn’t provide them with a robust set of notes to enable them to study effectively. While Smart Pens seemed the more modern alternative, there was a pretty daunting learning curve that came with them. In fact, some accessibility faculty sometimes struggled to get the tech to work correctly the first time round, and connect with the tablet or computer.
Twon Maddison, Access Technology Center at Missouri

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