Audio Recording as an Accommodation

Audio Recording as an Accommodation

Audio-recording class lectures is sometimes an accommodation for students with memory impairments, visual impairments, attention deficits or distractibility, impaired auditory processing, or limited manual dexterity. The audio recording is a supplement to the student's own or a note taker's written notes. 

According to the regulations, students with disabilities who are unable to take or read notes have the right to record class lectures only for personal study purposes. Lectures recorded for personal study may not be shared with other people without the consent of the lecturer. KU students who are approved to audio record lectures sign an agreement with the DSO outlining these responsibilities.

Legally, a professor may not forbid recording if it has been approved as an accommodation for the student's disability to provide meaningful access to the educational experience. The recording of lectures is one of the accommodations specifically mentioned in Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. The issue of copyright as a concern is referenced here.  

Professor's Right to Privacy/Copyright Protection

Objections to the use of a recording device in the classroom are typically based on concerns surrounding the right to privacy of information discussed in the classroom. The professor's and the students' right to privacy does not override the student's right to accommodation. The DSO maintains copies of signed recording agreements that detail the limited use of the recordings and arranges for their disposal when the purpose of the recording has been fulfilled.  

Classes Involving Student Self-Disclosure

Occasionally, professors object to the use of a recording device in classes that involve a great deal of self-disclosure from students as part of the class, fearing that the use of a recording device will inhibit students from freely sharing. The use of a recording device is to supplement the student's note-taking ability. If these open discussions are not appropriate subject matter for any student to be taking notes, it would be appropriate to issue a general announcement to the class to request that any students who are using a recording device turn it off.

Audio Recording Devices and Apps

Approved students may utilize smart-pens, digital recorders, and smartphone/tablet/computer applications for the purpose of making audio-recordings in a lecture. In addition, there is an increasing number of apps and software designed for this task. Typically, students for whom this accommodation is granted, are those who have difficulties attending to the lecture content and making cogent written notes at the same time; the audio recording allows the student to 'fill in the gaps' after the lecture or clarify meaning in their written notes. 

Please contact the DSO at 610-683-4108 with any questions or assistance in providing this accommodation.