Note-Taker: Enabling Students who are Legally Blind to Take Notes in Class

Enabling Students who are Legally Blind to Take Notes in Class

Publication Type:

Conference Proceedings


D. Hayden, D. Colbry, J. Black, S. Panchanathan


10th ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility, Halifax, Canada (2008)


Note Taker



The act of note-taking is a key component of learning in secondary and post-secondary classrooms. Students who take notes retain information from classroom lectures better, even if they never refer to those notes afterward. However, students who are legally blind, and who wish to take notes in their classrooms are at a disadvantage. Simply equipping classrooms with lecture recording systems does not substitute for note taking, since it does not actively engage the student in note-taking during the lecture. In this paper we detail the problems encountered by one math and computer science student who is legally blind, and we present our proposed solution: the CUbiC CARES Note-Taker, which is a highly portable device that requires no prior classroom setup, and does not require lecturers to adapt their presentations. We also present results from two case studies of the Note-Taker, totaling more than 200 hours of in-class use.


David Hayden

David Hayden

Masters Student Researcher

Dirk Joel Luchini Colbry

Dirk Joel Luchini Colbry

Assistant Research Professor

John A. Black, Jr

John A. Black, Jr

Research Scientist

Dr. Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan

Dr. Sethuraman "Panch" Panchanathan

Director, National Science Foundation


To take notes in class, students with visual impairments must rapidly switch between writing their notes (a near-sight task) and viewing a board at the front of the classroom (a far-sight task). Current assistive technologies provide magnification for near-sight tasks,…