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Volunteer Note Takers

Why be a volunteer note taker?

  • Often students who volunteer to be a class note taker will attend classes more regularly and take better notes when they know a classmate is relying on their notes.
  • This community service can be listed on job applications and resumes.
  • Ut Prosim, “That I May Serve,” starts as soon as you become a Hokie.
  • Assist Virginia Tech, your academic department and your instructor in providing equal access to class material.
  • Many volunteers simply want to help another person.

Why do some students with a documented disability require note-taking support?

Disabilities such as hearing, visual, physical, attention or print-related may require a student to receive note taking support. The student with a disability may be physically unable to take notes, may need to focus only on what the instructor is saying, or may be unable to decipher writing due to a reading disability. Often a student’s disability is invisible.

Students registered with the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) office may qualify to receive the note taker accommodation. This accommodation is used by students to overcome a barrier caused by a disability that makes taking notes difficult or impossible. Some disabilities may include physical, learning and psychological. The note taker accommodation at Virginia Tech relies on volunteers. Virginia Tech volunteer note takers uphold the Virginia Tech motto, Ut Prosim, “That I May Serve,” on a daily basis. Currently 100-200 volunteer note takers per semester assist the SSD office in providing this accommodation.

Who can volunteer?

Volunteer note takers must be registered for the class in which they will be providing notes. Volunteers cannot use this community service for student conduct purposes unless their GPA is 3.0 or above.

What are the responsibilities of a volunteer note taker?

SSD requests that volunteers take effective notes, attend lectures, and be willing to upload their class notes to Canvas within 24 hours after each lecture. Notes should be neat, legible, organized, and have the date and class information on each page.

Download a pdf with Instructions for Note Takers using Canvas here.

Who will I “report” to?

Professors will provide the names of their class volunteers to the SSD office.  The SSD office will manage the note-taker accommodation. Therefore, volunteer note takers will work with SSD’s note taker coordinator.

SSD Coordinator of Alternate Text & Note Takers:

How will I provide my notes?

SSD uses Canvas to exchange notes between volunteer note takers and the SSD students needing notes. Volunteer note takers are asked to upload their notes to Canvas or deliver notes to the SSD office, within 24 hours of each class lecture.

Note takers have the following options to provide their notes to the SSD office:

  • Upload electronic notes directly to Canvas.
  • Scan notes and upload them to Canvas.
  • Visit the SSD office and make copies of the notes using an SSD copier. Leave the notes at the SSD front desk. A SSD staff member will upload the notes to Canvas.
  • Deliver notes to the SSD office.
  • Discuss the process with instructors or departments to gain access to department copiers.

What if I am absent from class?

If you miss a class, please make arrangements with a fellow classmate to take notes for that class.

If you know ahead of time that you will miss class, please send an email to The coordinator may contact an alternate note taker or the instructor to make other arrangements for the class you will miss.

What contact will I have with the student or students who require my notes?

Due to the legal right for confidentiality, volunteer note takers are not introduced to or contacted by the student with a disability. If you would like to communicate with the student using your notes, please contact the SSD note taker coordinator at

Is there specific training for volunteer note takers?

At this time, SSD does not provide specific training for volunteer note takers. If you have questions please contact the SSD note taking coordinator at

Volunteer Note Taker Do's and Dont's

Virginia Tech relies on volunteer note takers to provide equal access to class lectures for a student with a disability. Volunteer note takers are asked to:


  • Attend class regularly and on time.
  • Take effective, legible notes.
  • Provide their notes within 24 hours of the class lecture.
  • Make arrangements to acquire notes from a classmate if you know you are going to miss class.
  • Contact the SSD office and the instructor if you drop the class or will no longer be able to be the class note taker.
  • If you are aware of the name of the student or students you are providing notes for, keep this information confidential. Anyone with a disability has the legal right to confidentiality.
  • Remember that the notes you provide for the student may be the only notes the student has to understand the material, complete assignments and study for quizzes and exams.


  • Contact the student with a disability. If you have questions, contact the SSD office. Many volunteer note takers request feedback on their notes. SSD can contact the student(s) and give you that feedback.
  • Wait until a test is coming to upload several class lectures. Please always upload notes within 24 hours of the lecture.
  • Rewrite or retype your notes before providing them to the SSD office unless you want to and have time to do so within the 24 hour timeframe.

Effective Note-Taking Tips

  • Maintain class attention throughout the class and the semester.
  • Record the course, date and page number on each page of notes.
  • If handwriting notes, use a blue or black pen (more legible when making copies).
  • If using abbreviations or symbols, include the definition for the student or provide a list of your abbreviations/symbols.
  • Listen carefully for explicit clues from the instructor such as, “this will be on the test. . .,” “remember this . . . .“
  • Don’t include your personal opinions or biases in your notes.
  • Copy down anything the instructor writes on the board.
  • If you have a gap in your notes for any reason, meet with the instructor to complete your notes, both for you and the student relying on your notes.
  • Write down any assignment information, due dates, special events, review sessions, and other pertinent information discussed in class.
  • Leave blanks if you are unsure and go back to the instructor later to fill in the blanks.
  • Use correct spelling or write “sp” if you are unsure.
  • Include information from videos or guest speakers.
  • Include questions asked by other students and the answers provided.
  • Move seats if you happen to sit by a talkative classmate.
  • Sit up front and watch cues from the instructor such as:
    • Repeated information
    • Lists created by the professor
    • Names, dates, places
    • Change in voice inflection
    • Any information the professor says “will be on the test” or “you will see again”
  • Ask the instructor if you can record lectures and use the recording to fill in areas you may be unsure of or may miss.