UC Santa Barbara has announced it will largely end the disabled student notetaker program three weeks before the start of Fall Quarter 2022. Previously, the service allowed students with disabilities to make use of lecture notes taken by a paid notetaker, a program relied upon by students with disabilities in roughly 550 to 650 courses every quarter.
In an Aug. 31 email to those enrolled in the UCSB Disabled Students Program (DSP), Support Services Coordinator and Assistant to the Director Kalli Talafus announced the end of the notetaker program as it currently operates, effective in Fall Quarter 2022.
“We will be shifting away from providing peer notetakers and towards the use of assistive notetaking technology,” she said in the email obtained by the Nexus. “This means that starting in Fall 2022, you will no longer be able to request a peer notetaker through our system.”
UCSB instead opted to promote what they describe as “adaptive technology options” such as using a Smartpen or Glean — an app that allows students to record and playback lectures while taking notes. Previously, student notetakers were paid $25 a unit to take and submit notes for student use.
Should specific student’s disabilities render the university’s adaptive technology options inaccessible, they have the option to reach out to their DSP specialist, explain their situation and request a notetaker.
In a follow-up email, Talafus encouraged students who wished to make use of the replacement technologies to email firstname.lastname@example.org but warned that the program is short-staffed and will not be providing training for the replacement tools.
Talafus touted the change as an improvement, stating that apps like these put disabled students “in control” of their notes and help them “develop independent learning and study skills.”
“We look forward to this exciting improvement to our program,” she said. “On average, students who take notes using a Smartpen or Glean earn higher cumulative GPAs than those who rely on peer notes.”
DSP is the second largest employer of student workers at UCSB, serving more than 3,000 disabled students according to the program’s website.
Correction [8/31/2022, 7:00 p.m.]: This article has been updated to include that students with disabilities which prevent the use of the university’s replacement options may request a peer notetaker.