Using Every Tool in the Box: Promoting Adaptive Technology as the Primary Note Taking Accommodation


Wednesday, November 7


4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.


Darcy Kramer and Michele Joy Bromley


When asked about their level of skill or satisfaction with their own note taking, freshman or transfer students often indicate that they cannot take notes effectively on their own. Their default is often to request a human note taker, and DS professionals often provide this accommodation when traditional note taking is clearly not an autonomously effective option for the student. The issue with this methodology is that many of these students have been taught from a young age that note taking is singularly defined as the act of writing down everything a lecturer is saying in order to have written material for later review and examination. For many students with disabilities, note taking by this definition is simply not an option. Thus, students believe that they are “bad” at note taking. The reality is that everyone intakes, processes, and outputs information differently, and luckily, adaptive technology allows many different and yet equally effective note taking methods to match. While there are definitely some cases in which a human note taker is the best and most reasonable accommodation, there are many more cases in which the right adaptive technology tool will allow a student with disabilities to take notes effectively using skills that more closely match their learning strengths and abilities. This presentation will outline, from an Access Counselor and Consultant perspective and from an Adaptive Technology Specialist perspective, when and how adaptive technology may by the first (and best) option.

Learning Outcomes

  • Having criteria to determine when a human note taker is absolutely
    necessary versus when adaptive technology might be considered first
  • Developing tools to assess students’ levels of skill or satisfaction with
    their own note taking both before and after using adaptive technology
  • Knowing how to break down a student’s technology expertise and note
    taking history to determine which adaptive technologies might work best
  • Learning methods for working with students who have tried adaptive
    technology and found that it is not the best option for them

Presentation Materials

Presenter Bio(s)

Darcy Kramer

Darcy Kramer developed a passion for working with diverse populations during her 19+ years working at Portland State University. Darcy has worked with people from every major region of the world, and works closely with people with disabilities on a daily basis. Darcy is currently an Access Counselor and Consultant at the Disability Resource Center at Portland State University, and works every day to enhance awareness of disability in the workplace and academic settings. She loves to work with faculty, staff, and the community to find solutions and techniques to develop an inclusive, equitable environment. In July 2010 Darcy presented at the 7th International Conference on Higher Education and Disability in Innsbruck, Austria. She provides numerous in-service trainings at Portland State University, and presented diversity and disability awareness at Clackamas Community College in September 2011. Darcy presented on chronic pain at the Fall 2015 ORAHEAD conference.

Michele Joy Bromley

Michele Bromley is the Adaptive Technology Specialist and Alternative Formats Coordinator for the Disability Resource Center at Portland State University (PSU). She has worked in disability services since 2009 and at PSU since 2014. Michele serves as a member of PSU’s Accessibility Committee and Universal Design Subcommittee. She is also serving her third term as Communications Officer on the Oregon Association of Higher Education and Disability (ORAHEAD) Board of Directors. Michele has facilitated numerous adaptive technology and digital accessibility trainings at PSU and presented on captioning, alternative format production, accessible web design, and adaptive technology at several regional ORAHEAD conferences. Michele has also presented nationally at the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) conference, the Postsecondary Disability Training Institute (PTI), and Accessing Higher Ground (AHG): AHEAD’s Accessible Media, Web and Technology Conference.