A scribe is a qualified individual who writes or types verbatim exactly as a student dictates their responses during exams.  The student may dictate their responses by speech, assistive communication device, pointing, or through a sign language interpreter.

Instructors, teaching assistants, graduate and upper-year students, proctors, or administrative staff may serve as qualified scribes.

Where applicable, the scribe must have an appropriate familiarity with the words, terms, symbols, or signs specific to the exam content.  For example, the scribe must be reasonably fluent in Hebrew when scribing for a student taking exams in this language.

Individuals supporting this accommodation at the University of Windsor are encouraged to review the guidelines below. 

Who Receives This Accommodation

Students approved for this accommodation have physical or chronic disabilities which significantly restricts their ability to handwrite to type their exam answers. This accommodation is usually approved when technological alternatives such as text-to-speech are not feasible. 

Examples, where the scribe accommodation may be approved, include:

  • Students whose physical disabilities which significantly restricts their hand or arm functioning such as cerebral palsy or severe carpel tunnel.
  • Students with dysgraphia taking exams for which typing is not feasible (e.g., math-based exams).
  • Students with sudden, new injuries to their hand or arm who cannot type or who are taking exams for which typing is not feasible (e.g., math-based exams).
  • Students with concussions who must limit their screen use, and who are taking exams for which handwriting is not feasible.

General Guidelines

The following guidelines should be followed by students and scribes when engaged in this accommodation:

  • Students approved for this accommodation are also approved for a private room during exams.
  • The scribe is responsible for entering identification and other required details on the exam paper (e.g., student name, number, date, page number, etc.). 
  • The scribe may type or handwrite the student's answers.
  • For multiple choice exams, students may say or point to their choice.
  • The scribe is responsible for correctly transferring the student's answers to the Santron, if applicable.
  • The scribe is responsible for correct spelling.  Where necessary, they may ask the student to spell technical words.
  • The student is responsible for correct punctuation.  The student may indicate punctuation as they dictate, or they may add it later .
  • The student is permitted to skip questions and go out of order just like other students.
  • The student is permitted to review and edit their answers throughout the exam, and to have their answers read back to them as often as necessary.
  • The student must indicate when they are ready to move to the next exam item.
  • Scribes can respond only to procedural questions from the student (e.g., "How much space do I have left?").
  • Scribes must not assist the student in any way.  They must not suggest answers, offer strategies or clues, indicate correct or incorrect answers, or instruct the student to redo or review any part of their answer or exam.

Scribe Qualifications

Qualified scribes must be able to: 

  • Handwrite in clear and legible manner.
  • Type at a reasonably efficient speed.
  • Maintain a neutral facial expression and posture without giving hints of any kind.
  • Sit quietly while students process their answers.
  • Work with students comfortably and compatibly without creating unnecessary pressure, expectations, or distractions.
  • Scribe exactly what the student dictates without paraphrasing or editing.
  • Ask the student to repeat phrases or words for clarity sake without suggesting changes or corrections. 

Scribing Math Exams

  • The student must specify where to place figures and operands for responses requiring equations. 
  • The scribe must prompt the student if they neglect to do so.
  • The scribe must correctly spell all words as dictated for responses requiring text.
  • The scribe must make any changes the student requests, even if they are mathematically incorrect.