Access Assistants

Access Assistants

Trained student workers called Access Assistants help to remove barriers for students with disabilities. They may assist you with laboratory access, notetaking, library assistance, individual reading, and other activities. Think this accommodation is right for you? Talk with your Disability Resource Center Access Consultant or contact the Access Assistant Coordinators, (612) 301-1755 or drcaa@umn.edu.

Information for Students Working with Access Assistants

  • Arrive on time. If you are running late or will miss class, contact your Access Assistant directly or contact the Access Assistant Coordinator directly.
  • Introduce yourself to the Access Assistant.
  • The Access Assistant will ask for your preferences and expectations. Examples of preferences include:
    • Style of Notetaking - electronic, paper notebook, carbon notebook, paragraph form, bullet points, etc.
    • Style of Audio Description - Level of detail in description, include or do not include colors, etc.
    • Level of Assistance in Labs - Take notes during the lab, pour liquids, use tools, other lab tasks, etc.
    • Other Assistance – Guide or walk to restroom or vending machine, etc.
  • Access Assistants will not disclose who they are working with or disclose any information regarding you or your disability.
  • Access Assistants will not participate in class discussions or other class activities unless you request assistance.
  • Access Assistants will become familiar with class material to accurately describe and take notes on class material.
  • If you are a Jaws user, the Access Assistant can take you through the process of using Moodle or Canvas for the first time.
  • If the Access Assistant does anything to make you feel uncomfortable, talk to the Access Assistant directly or contact your Access Consultant.
  • Access Assistants will not work on other homework or any other non-work related tasks when they assist you. 
  • Give the Access Assistant feedback on the notes, description and other assistance.  With feedback, quality of assistance can improve and be tailored to your needs. 
  • If the Access Assistant is functioning as a reader or a scribe, they will write legibly, read at a pace that fits your needs and will not contribute information or assistance regarding the exam topic.
  • It will be your responsibility to let your Access Consultant know if any issues arise during your time with your Access Assistant.

Inappropriate Expectations

  • An Access Assistant will not complete a lab for you and your lab partner. You must give the Access Assistant explicit instructions on how to participate in the lab with your partner. 
  • Access Assistants will not accept any documents to be converted at the Disability Resource Center. If you have a document to convert, you must take the document to the office and ask for document conversion assistance.
  • Access Assistants are not responsible for opening mail or any other non-academic related tasks.
  • Access Assistants are not able to hand out copies of notes to your classmates.  If you would like to share your notes, that is your decision.

Information for Students Who Want to Apply to Become an Access Assistant

Each year the Disability Resource Center hires students to serve as Access Assistants for students, faculty and staff with disabilities. You can apply at http://employment.umn.edu.  Search for the Access Assistant job openings in the "Equity/Diversity" College. If you do not come across a job posting, please contact drcaa@umn.edu to inquire more.