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Course/Lab Assistant, Reader/Scribe, and Visual Descriptionist

When a student with a disability faces barriers to independently carrying out manual or visual tasks, OAE will approve any one, or multiple, of the following individuals for the student: a course and/or laboratory assistant, a reader, a scribe, and/or a visual descriptionist. 

Course Assistant

A course assistant is a general term to describe someone hired by OAE to perform tasks on behalf of the student with a disability (e.g., providing verbal descriptions of images, retrieve supplies or equipment, etc.), and can be any of the following assistants which perform more specific roles.  

Laboratory Assistant

A laboratory assistant will assist with various lab requirements and procedures that students may need support in completing (e.g., retrieval of supplies or equipment). Lab assistants are hired to aid students with disabilities with the physical mechanics and dexterity requirements of lab activities (e.g., lifting, pouring, etc.).  A lab assistant only performs tasks directed by the student, they do not explain or interpret lab assignments/questions, and the result of their support should never influence or guide a student in any way.


A reader assists with reading information exactly as it is written aloud to the student with a disability.  A reader will not change any content of the material, provide assistance, or engage in a discussion with the student.


A scribe assists with the physical act of writing by transcribing a student’s dictations.  A scribe never corrects what the student dictates, or influences the student’s response in any way.

Visual Descriptionist

A visual descriptionist assists with describing or conveying what is seen for the student with a disability to be able to observe what is taking place.

Once a student has been approved for an accommodation, it is the student’s responsibility to submit a request through OAE | CONNECT as soon as possible since timely notice is needed so we can coordinate this accommodation.

Please feel free to contact the Office of Accessible Education if you have any questions.