A lot of us wake up in the morning and manage to drag ourselves to class, not really thinking much of it. We sit down, do our time, take our notes, and leave. Simple, right? But then, there’s a lot of us who aren’t able to do that so easily. There’s a lot of us, visible or not, who struggle every day from various difficulties – it’s not always a hearing, visual, or learning disability. Imagine sitting there in constant physical pain, not able to concentrate enough to take down proper notes. Imagine being unable to fully follow the lecture because you weren’t able to sleep all night from the pain, and even worse, when you’re not allowed to drink any coffee to combat the headache and sleepiness. Imagine the professor pointing at the board saying, this and that leads to these, and you’re sitting there completely flustered. Imagine the test is right around the corner, you log into U of T’s Accessibility Services website to check for notes and you find that the generous people helping you out had stopped uploading notes after lecture 3.
I’ve been on both sides of this, the giving and recently, the receiving. On the receiving end, honestly, it isn’t as though the bigger the class size, the higher the chances of someone uploading the notes. One of my smallest lectures had regular uploads by more than two people and my bigger lectures…well, I had to resort to shamelessly making a friend who would help me out. It wasn’t until now that I realized how much the Note-Taking program relies on dedicated volunteer note-takers. More importantly, by being part of this program, I had been helping provide students registered with Accessibility Services achieve academic success and a more fair shot at university – because let’s be honest here, U of T is not easy and we’re all in this experience together.
As for being a volunteer note-taker, it really did me more good than harm. Not only was it another incentive to attend my lectures regularly and focus properly, my notes improved quiet a lot just by knowing that someone else will be reading them, too. This also meant less time going over and fixing them later for assignments and exams. If giving to the U of T community wasn’t enough, I get to record it on my Co-Curricular Record and receive a Certificate of Appreciation at the end of the term – all just for a spending a few minutes to upload notes that would otherwise be selfishly sitting in a folder on my laptop for who knows how long.
So yes, I know, why would you bother sharing something you’ve spent your own time and effort on for some stranger? There has to be someone else who will do it, right? Yes…but no, not really. The thing is, you’re not the only one who could be thinking that. What if everyone is? Then those registered with Accessibility Services would end up with no accommodation at the end of the day. Next time your instructor makes an announcement about note-taking needs, why not try it out? It takes less than a minute!