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Signature capture devices offer convenience
Signature capture devices allow someone to place an image of their handwritten signature on an electronic document (PDF, Word, or Excel) by signing a device that connects to their computer, similar to the devices you sign for credit card purchases. The convenience of these devices is that you don’t have to print, sign, scan, and upload a document in order to have an electronic copy with your signature. You can just sign it using the signature capture device. You can also move a signature capture device from computer to computer, if needed, and anyone can use it, so it is not tied to a particular person.

In a meeting of the UH Controller, UHS General Counsel’s Office, UHS Internal Audit, and UH IT Security, all agreed that signature capture devices can be used for any documents where a scanned signature is acceptable. For instance, scanned signatures are acceptable for most UHS contracts, Travel Requests, P-Card and Travel Card Expense Reports, and many other documents we sign.

“Digital signatures” are different than the signatures created by a signature capture device. Digital signatures create a date and time stamp of the person’s approval, are not meant to resemble the person’s handwritten signature, do not allow additional changes to the document after it is signed, and provide some level of authentication that the signer is the person they claim to be. However, we can only use digital signature vendors that are approved by the State of Texas. Adobe is not one of them, so individuals should not use the delivered Adobe digital signature process.

UH has a contract with a state-authorized digital signature vendor and is creating forms that can be signed digitally where using digital signatures makes sense. This includes options for signing documents internally, such as Microsoft Office documents, as well as those that involve signatures from parties outside the university. For instance, UH student housing agreements were enabled for digital signatures last year, which has greatly improved the speed and efficiency of that process while providing needed authentication of the signers (parents and students). Departments utilizing hard-copy forms or forms posted on UH web pages that require third-party signatures that would like to consider using these services should contact me or UIT Security for more information.

Departments are not required to purchase signature capture devices. If they do, they are not required to purchase a certain brand or model, but it should function well enough to create a signature image that looks like a pen and ink signature. Here are a couple of devices that are being used by some departments and are recommended.

Topaz SigLite LCD 1X5 (Model T-L460-HSB-R), which sells for about $200. This model includes:
  • LCD display, which allows you to see your signature on the signature pad as you sign it
  • USB cable for connecting to your computer
  • Low-cost touchpad and stylus for signing (similar to grocery store device)
  • 1 year warranty
  • Recommended for up to 25 signatures a day

Topaz SignatureGem LCD 1X5 (Model T-L462-HSB-R), which sells for about $350. This model includes:
  • LCD display, which allows you to see your signature on the signature pad as you sign it
  • USB cable for connecting to your computer
  • Tempered glass and active pen that uses radiofrequency technology for signing (don’t need to apply as much pressure as the SigLite stylus)
  • 3 year warranty
  • Recommended for more than 25 signatures a day

Departments can buy these devices from a number of online vendors. Topaz does not sell them directly to the public.

If your department is using a signature capture device and would recommend (or have a reason to not recommend) it to others, please notify Mike Glisson at