The volunteer note-taking program is one of the most common classroom accommodations to help overcome disability facing barriers. Additionally, it has been shown that volunteering to be a note-taker will improve your own note-taking skills.
This page provides instructions on how to request note-taking accommodations and how to volunteer as a note-taker.
UPDATE: We have a new scanning station for note takers without access to a scanner and computer. Drop by our office at 455 Spadina Avenue, 4th Floor, Suite 400 to upload your notes to the Note-taking Portal. How to instructions are posted by the scanning station. Last updated: April 16, 2019.
Why request note-taking?
Are you having trouble taking class notes due to difficulty concentrating, writing, accessing verbal information, chronic pain or other issues? If so, you can request volunteer note-taking to services to overcome disability related barriers.
How to request a note-taking accomodation
The note-taking accommodations is volunteer-based. So there is no guarantee all of your classes will have a volunteer note-taker.
Making the request for a note-taking accommodation is your responsibility.
Provide a Letter of Accommodation to your professors at the start of each semester.
The professor will make an in class announcement to request volunteer to sign up as note-takers
Visit the notetaking portal and request volunteer notetaking (as soon as possible).
Download your notes from the portal.
What to do if notes have not been posted, or are hard to understand?
If after 48 hours, notes are not available, contact email@example.com to see if other notes are available.
If after one month, notes are not available, please reach out to your Accessibility Advisor to discover alternative accommodations.
- If notes are inconsistent, provide feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our responsibilities: How will we help you?
- Manage communications: We are main contacts for students registered with Accessibility Services, the volunteer note-taker and the professor.
- Ensure your instructors and TA's will recruit volunteer note-takers: The Accommodations Administrator and the Program Assistant will send out weekly emails to professors, course instructors and teaching assistants asking them to make in-class announcements to recruit volunteer note-takers.
- Help volunteers write effective notes: Provide feedback to volunteer note-takers on how the students used their notes or how the notes can be made more accessible.
Why become a volunteer note-taker?
About the role
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.
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.
How to become a Volunteer Note-taker
Follow these four steps to register and receive your certificate of completion.
- Register as a volunteer note-taker on the Note-taking Portal.
- Attend your class regularly and take effective notes. Note: If you drop the class, please inform us immediately.
- After each class, upload your notes to the Note-taking Portal.
- When the term is over, contact us to request a Certificate of Completion.
Responsibilities and Duties as a Note-taker
As a volunteer note-taker, you should:
- Upload your notes within 24-48 hours after each class to the Accessibility Services Note-taking Portal. If you are not able to upload your notes in this timeframe, email email@example.com.
- If you are experiencing technical issues logging into our system, 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.
Manage your CCR
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, login to the CCR, go to the “Opportunity Directory” or “Manage Co-Curricular Record Tab” and select “Add Position to My Record.”
CCR activity cannot be backdated; it is important to know your deadlines.
The Accommodations Administrator has the right to revoke CCR activity for the following reasons:
- The notes uploaded were poor quality.
- The notes were not consistently uploaded.
- It is suspected that the notes were plagiarized.
- The notes have not been uploaded within the 24-48 hour time period.
Request your Certificate of Recognition
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 2018, 2018-2019 academic term, etc.)
NOTE: Depending on when you submit the request it could take 1 to 2 weeks to create the certificate.
For lecture-based courses, you can adapt the Cornell Note-taking System.
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 word so students can check afterwards.
- 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).
- Do not write individuals personal experiences, or disclosures that might take place 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 results 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
Correct Document Formatting
Handwritten notes : Must be written legibly, and 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.
Typed Notes: Can be uploaded using the following formats: PPT, PPTX, DOCX, TXT, RFT, XLSX.
Scanning Notes: Volunteer note-takers can also scan and upload their notes at our office located at 455 Spadina Avenue, 4th floor, Suite 400.
UPDATE: We have a new scanning station for note takers without access to a scanner and computer. Drop by our office at 455 Spadina Avenue, 4th Floor, Suite 400 to upload your notes to the Note Taking Portal. How to instructions are posted by the scanning station. Last updated: April 16, 2019.
Mobile Scanning: There are also multiple mobile applications that you can use to scan and upload your notes into our system.
File Naming Conventions
- 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.