Under Section 504, Subpart E Postsecondary Education, of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, institutions of higher education must provide reasonable accommodations to a student’s known disability and may not deny equal access to the institution’s programs, courses, and activities. For a number of students with disabilities, simultaneously listening to lectures and taking notes is extremely difficult. Recording class lectures is a reasonable accommodation for students who have registered with the Office of Student Accessibility and Disability Services and whose documentation determine this as an appropriate accommodation.
Typically, students may not use recording devices in the classroom without explicit prior permission from the class instructor and consent from all students present. However, instructor and class permission are not required when an accommodation notification from the Office of Student Accessibility & Disability Services (OSSADS) has been received by the instructor, which identifies a student that requires the use of a recording device. Before any such recording can occur, the student must notify their instructor of their plans to record and must sign the Audio Recording Policy. On this policy, students with the accommodation of audio recording agree to the following conditions:
- Recordings of lectures are only for the student’s personal use in study and preparation related to the course.
- The student may not share these recordings with any other person without the consent of the lecturer.
- The student may not publish or quote the lecture or post the lecture on-line without the written consent of the lecturer.
- The student must sign an agreement with the OSSADS before lectures can be recorded and must be registered as a student with a disability.
- The lecturer will be notified beforehand that the lecture will be recorded and that the student has signed an agreement.
- The student agrees either to; a) return all recorded lectures to the lecturer by the end of the semester, or to b) destroy all recordings made when they are no longer needed for his/her respective courses.
- Students are expected to attend the class that is being recorded. Recording a lecture is not a replacement for class attendance.
If an instructor objects to audio recording, it is often because they maintain that their right to privacy of information discussed in the classroom is being violated or because there is a concern about a breach of copyright. The instructor’s right to privacy or concern over copyright does not override the student’s right to accommodation. One of the responsibilities of the Director of Student Accessibility & Disability Services is to see that the instructor’s concern for privacy and copyright protection is respected and addressed while still assuring the availability of appropriate accommodations for students. This is addressed in the Audio Recording Policy. The Director is available to work with any instructor who wishes to have an agreement between instructor and student that details the specific limited use of the recordings and arranges for their disposal when the purpose of the recording has been fulfilled.
Occasionally, instructors object to the use of a recording device in classes that involve a great deal of self-disclosure in class out of concerns that recording would inhibit students from freely sharing. The use of a recording device is designed to address the student’s struggles with note-taking. When open discussions are not appropriate subject matter for any student to be taking notes, instructors may limit the use of any recording device in specific situations when it is determined that recording would inhibit free discussion and the free exchange of ideas in the classroom.
Recording devices are considered auxiliary aids and as such must be allowed or provided to qualified students who do not have their own device.