UCSB walks away from note-taking program for disabled students; Changes to “adaptive technology solutions”

UC Santa Barbara has announced that it will largely end its note-taking program for students with disabilities three weeks before the start of the fall 2022 quarter. Previously, the service allowed students with disabilities to make use of class notes taken by a paid note taker, a program trusted by students. with disabilities in approximately 550 to 650 courses each quarter.

The Disabled Students Program, located in the Student Resource Building (pictured above), it is the second largest employer of student workers at UCSB. Devin Ralston / Daily Nexus

In an August 31 email to UCSB Disabled Student Program (DSP) enrollees, Coordinator of Support Services and Assistant Director Kalli Talafus announced the end of the note-taking program as it currently operates, to beginning in the fall quarter of 2022.

“We will be moving away from providing peer note takers and toward using assistive technology for note taking,” he said in the email obtained by Nexus. “This means that beginning in the fall of 2022, you will no longer be able to request a note-taking partner through our system.”

Instead, UCSB chose to promote what they describe as “adaptive technology options,” such as the use of a Smartpen or Glean, a app which allows students to record and play back lectures while taking notes. Previously, student note takers were paid $25 per unit to take and mail notes for student use.

If students’ specific disabilities make the university’s adaptive technology options inaccessible, they have the option of contacting their DSP specialist, explaining their situation, and requesting a note taker.

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In a follow-up email, Talafus encouraged students who wanted to make use of the replacement technologies to email [email protected] but cautioned that the program is short-staffed and will not provide training for replacement tools.

Talafus touted the change as an improvement, stating that apps like these give disabled students “in control” of their grades and help them “develop independent study and learning skills.”

“We look forward to this exciting enhancement to our program,” he said. “On average, students who take notes with a Smartpen or Glean earn a higher cumulative GPA than those who rely on their peers’ notes.”

DSP is the second largest employer of student workers at UCSB, serving more than 3,000 students with disabilities according to to the program website.

Correction [8/31/2022, 7:00 p.m.]: This article has been updated to include that students with disabilities that prevent the use of the of the University Replacement options may ask a partner to take notes.

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Mark Alfred (he/her) is assistant news editor for the 2022-23 school year. Contact [email protected] or 858-413-7384 (iMessage/WhatsApp/Signal/Telegram).

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