|One Semester in the Life of a Physically-Disabled College Student: A Note on Note Takers|
This is the last weekend of March and Tom has three papers due as well as two exams to study for. As one of his at-home “paraprofessionals,” I sometimes get behind in blogging about the work because of the work itself!
The two exams remind me that one important issue this semester has been note-taking. For students with no physical impairment, note taking is probably second nature by the time they are college sophomores. They listen to the professor lecture, follow the syllabus and text, and make notes on anything the prof says that they think they will be responsible for knowing. That very activity is part of the learning process and teaches them to screen the important from the interesting and write it down.
Students with certain physical impairments cannot do this. They must either record lectures with a tape recorder or request a note taker and hope they get a reasonably good one. Either way they are starting at a disadvantage because they are not making their own decisions about what information to retain and why it is important to them.
Tom uses note takers because activating a tape recorder and later sorting, storing and reviewing tapes is also physically difficult. Note taking is obviously important when facing a test. You need to have the best summary of what was said in class in order to prepare for questions that may be asked on the exam. It is also, and more basically, important so that you know when you are going to be taking a test, handing in a paper, or covering a topic. If the note taker does not record these things, you probably won’t discover it until you have received a copy of the notes after class or in an e-mail, or worse, are ready to start studying.
The best way to avoid note taking disasters is to already know the person to whom you entrust this invaluable task and the quality of his notes. If you don’t, and you find your note taker isn’t working out, immediately request another. This service is one you are entitled to if approved in your accommodations and it is too important to accept less than the best.