Students with Disabilities Recording Classes
The recording of classes is a common accommodation for students with print-related disabilities and/or who are auditory learners. For example, consider an individual with severe dyslexia, who may find reading any material (such as another student’s notes) quite a challenging endeavor. Students with visual impairments, slow processing speed disorders, and some other differing abilities may also need to record classes.
After the interactive process has been engaged and the office of disability services has determined that a recording device is a reasonable accommodation for a student with a diagnosed disability, the accommodation letter may include a designation similar to the following: “ability to audio record lectures.” With the explosion of extensive advances in technology, it is important to be aware that anyone could be recording any conversation or audio at any time; laptops, i Pads, electronic notebooks, cell phones, smart pens, smart watches, and other tech-savvy jewelry and gadgetry have the ability to record unobtrusively. Recording devices such as smart pens and other small apparatuses are recommended for students, when such an accommodation is necessary, because they are unobtrusive, help students to be more independent, and are more reliable than a voluntary note taker, as well as being more cost effective for many of those instances wherein the disability services office may need to pay a note taker.
Smart pens work by combining a pen, a tiny camera, and an audio recorder, and aligning the location of notes on special micro-dot paper. For example, utilizing this process, a student in philosophy course may be taking a few key word notes on Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave.” Later, the student reviews those notes and finds herself unable to recall the correlation with her note “Education.” She could then turn on her Smart Pen, touch it to where she had written the word “Education,” and the pen would know, relative to the word’s location on the micro-dots, where to begin playing what the instructor was saying at the precise moment the student wrote that particular note. The pen syncs what was heard with what was written. Students have assorted writing utensils and these pens fit right in, nearly unnoticeable. They charge similarly to a cell phone and software is available for downloading and highlighting notes for study purposes.
Many good students, who do not have a diagnosed disability, have openly stated that they regularly record class material, for their personal benefit; to ensure that their notes are thorough and accurate. A former student, who suffered from short-term memory failure, was able to maintain her part-time position as a waitress, while putting herself through college, by utilizing a smart pen on the job. She would record customer orders, as she took them on her note pad, and was able to replay to the chef any part about which she was unsure.
The office of civil rights has advised that students for whom this accommodation is reasonable may not be denied the opportunity to record. But, what if an instructor objects to the use of an auxiliary or personal aid? According to office of civil rights, sometimes post-secondary instructors may not be familiar with section 504 or ADA requirements regarding the use of an auxiliary or personal aid in their classrooms. Most often, questions arise when a student uses a tape recorder. College teachers may believe recording lectures is an infringement upon their own or other students’ academic freedom or constitutes copyright violation. The instructor may not forbid a student’s use of an aid if that prohibition limits the student’s participation in the school program. The Section 504 regulation states: A recipient may not impose upon handicapped students’ other rules, such as the prohibition of tape recorders in classrooms or of dog guides in campus buildings, that have the effect of limiting the participation of handicapped students in the recipient’s education program or activity.
by Tina Vires, Office of Disability Services.
Vires, Tina E. and Teaching and Learning Center, “Guest Column: Students with Disabilities Recording Classes—by Tina Vires, Office of Disability Services” (2016). The Weekly Reader. 90.