Note takers

The Disability and Support Services Office (DSS) coordinates note taking services for students with a disability who are registered with the office. Based on the documentation of the disability, DSS will determine on a case-by-case/course-by-course basis the use of note takers as an appropriate accommodation. Students who receive this accommodation typically have a visual or hearing impairment, physical disability, traumatic brain injury, or learning disability. The note taker service is free to qualifying students with disabilities, and it is a paid position to the note taker.

How the Service Works

The Director of DSS approves note taker accommodations, and like all disability accommodations, are based on the student’s disability documentation, the current nature of their disability, and the specific requirements of the course or program. The service is meant to supplement class attendance and not replace it. Students eligible for this accommodation are asked to make a formal request every semester and for each class in which there is a need.  This is done by completing the online Request for Note taking Assistance form.  It is strongly encouraged that students attend the first two classes to determine which classes are appropriate for use of a note taker. The instructors will then be informed of the need for a note taker in the class. It is also encouraged that each DSS student meets with each instructor individually to discuss their academic accommodations. Instructors are asked to not disclose the name of the DSS student in class. It is the DSS student's prerogative whether or not to disclose their identity to their note taker. An announcement may be made in class advertising the note taker position, and/or an email will be sent out to all students registered in the class. Students are also encouraged to recommend classmates who they know are responsible, take good notes, and attend class reliably. Note takers deliver their photocopied or carbonless copied notes to the DSS student either via student exchange, email or by placing them in a folder in the DSS office. It is the DSS student's responsibility to pick up their notes on a regular basis, as well as to let DSS know if they have any concerns about the quality of the note taking service.


Student information shared with the DSS staff is considered confidential.  Therefore, note takers may not know the identity of the person for whom they are taking notes. However, there may be instances where the student will want to share their identity in order to collaborate with their note taker. In this case, the note taker is expected to keep shared information confidential. The relationship, whether anonymous or not, between the DSS student and their note taker(s) is important.

How to Use the Notes Effectively

For DSS students, the note taking service is effective if you attend class regularly, actively engage in the class, and use the notes in a proactive manner. Below are some steps you may choose to take to make the most out of the note taker service.

Three Ring Binders: ­ Using a three-ring binder can be an effective way of keeping your notes organized. Weekly notes can be hole-punched and organized as they are received along with your own notes.

Reviewing the Notes: ­ Read your notes within two hours or less of receiving them. Once you have read over the notes, try to paraphrase important points that the professor made in the lecture, fill in gaps as you remember points heard but not recorded, and find answers to any questions remaining unanswered. Answer the following questions:

  • Are the notes readable?
  • Is important information from the lecture, including blackboard, overheads or Power Point included?
  • Is the note taker using headings, bullets, indentations, and underline or star (*) major points and key words? Do they leave white space for later additions?
  • Do I understand the note taker's abbreviations?

If you, as a DSS student, using the note taking services feel that you are not receiving quality notes, please contact the office as soon as possible.

Being a Student Note taker

The Disability Support Services Office (DSS) coordinates note taking services for students who are registered with the office and who due to a disability, or disabilities, are either unable to take notes or need notes to supplement their own note. Students who receive this accommodation may have a visual or hearing impairment, a physical disability, a learning disability or traumatic brain injury.

Job Qualifications

Note taking services are effective for the student with a disability if the note taker attends class regularly and is actively engaged in the class. Students interested in being a note taker should:

  • Attend class regularly
  • Have strong note taking skills
  • Have legible handwriting or be able to provide typed notes in Word format, and
  • Deliver notes at a maximum of 24 hours after class ends to the DSS office

Notes Should Include

  • Main points of the lecture and presentations
  • Explanations, examples, and comments given by the professor
  • Information from the blackboard, overheads and Power Point
  • Dates and details for upcoming exams, quizzes, papers, and other assignments
  • It is not necessary to provide personal notes from readings or notes that you have created for studying or writing papers.

General Guidelines

  • Write only on one side of the paper
  • Use a black or blue pen
  • Keep your notes within the margins of the page and leave a blank line at the bottom of each page
  • At the top, please include the date, class # and page # in the upper right hand corner of every page.  For example, 9/3/01, ENGL 101 A, pg. 1 of 5.

If a note taker would like to provide notes in an electronic format and the DSS student wishes to remain anonymous, please send as Word attachment to Ann-Marie Dobies at

How to Apply to Be a Note taker

Contact Disability Support Services to apply for a note taking position that has been announced in one or more of your classes. We also encourage past note takers to contact the office during the first week of classes to let us know of the classes that you are available to take notes for. We will either let you know at that point if there is currently a class available, or we will phone you when one becomes available.  DSS is located in Old Main 317 and is open during the academic semester Monday through Thursday 8 am to 7 pm; Friday 8 am to 5 pm.  Summer academic hours are Monday through Friday 8:30 am to 5 pm.  If hired, and you are not a Canisius College employee (i.e. work-study, CEEP Grant recipient) you will need to complete necessary paperwork for the Payroll Office and provide a copy of two valid forms of identification, such as:

  • a passport
  • driver’s license
  • birth certificate, or
  • Social security card

Student’s who are currently working on campus need to fill out one form and do not have to provide two forms of identification.


The DSS Office is able to offer a stipend per class. Students who are U.S. citizens are eligible for employment as a note taker.  Due to Federal Employment Laws, Canadian and International students may not eligible to become note takers. Stipends will be issued during the semester that the services are provided. In order to receive payment, all paperwork and proper ID documentation must be received in the DSS Office at least two-weeks prior to the end of the semester. All stipends will be issued just prior to the end of the semester and are available for pick up in Student Accounts located in the Health Science Building Room 202.

Delivering Notes

Note takers are responsible for dropping off notes within 24 hours of the class time to the DSS Office in Old Main 317. If note takers are having difficulty turning in notes within this time period, we ask that you contact the office to discuss a resolution. If the note taker is ill and unable to attend class, it is the note taker’s responsibility to obtain a copy of other classmates' notes for the day(s) missed. If a DSS student is ill and cannot pick up their notes, special arrangements can be made through this office to assist you.

Effective Note taking

Note taking is a skill which takes practice and involves effort. Note taking is meant to provide a written record for review which requires an active effort on the part of the listener to condense, rephrase and organize information in a short period of time. Below are several steps that may help note takers improve note taking skills:

  • Sit in the classroom where hearing and seeing are better for you, and where there are fewer distractions.
  • Review the previous class notes and think through what has happened in class to date.
  • Be alert for speaker emphasis through tone or gesture, repetition, and use of cue words such as remember, first, finally, usually, however, but, most importantly, etc.
  • Don't try for a verbatim transcript, but do get down all of the main ideas and record some details and illustrations.
  • Paraphrase and develop a suitable system of shorthand - be consistent in its use
  • Leave plenty of white space on the page for later additions
  • Use an outline format, indentation, underlining, circles, etc. to indicate relative importance of information
  • Underscore or "*" major points