The Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations document (VISA) is the primary method of documentation that enables students to communicate their accommodations to faculty. A similar form of documentation is called a VISTA and performs the same functions for students with temporary conditions. The VISA/VISTA is individualized and cannot be generated until a student becomes registered with RCPD.
The VISA/VISTA is a confidential document. Students share their own VISA/VISTA with faculty as necessary after receiving the document from their RCPD Ability Access Specialist. Faculty should only share VISA/VISTAs with need-to-know individuals who are a necessary part of the accommodation/adjustment implementation process. See more information under the "VISA Distribution - Instructor Responsibilities" menu on this page.
Expand the below menus for additional information about the VISA process.
Requesting Your VISA
If you are a student who is already registered with RCPD, it is your responsibility to request a VISA from your assigned Ability Access Specialist.
VISAs have an expiration date that is listed at the top right corner of the document. If a VISA is expired, a new one can be requested by:
Emailing your assigned specialist with the request, and/or
Scheduling a meeting with your assigned specialist through their Microsoft Bookings page. Find your specialist’s scheduling link next to their picture on the Team RCPD page.
*If you need to discuss updates or changes to your VISA, you will need to schedule an appointment with your assigned specialist.
VISA Distribution - Student Responsibilities
Providing Your VISA
At the beginning of the semester you should distribute a copy of your VISA to each instructor and TA from whom you would like to receive accommodations. Be sure to give your instructors reasonable notice for implementation of accommodations. Best practice timelines are outlined in the accommodation examples on our website. Students should give their VISA to the instructor AND TAs of the course, unless instructed otherwise by faculty. Students should give their VISA to each course instructor as early in the semester as possible. Students are encouraged to provide a VISA to instructors even if they feel they may not need accommodations to account for unexpected disability occurrences.
Here is an email template you can use to distribute your VISA. Be sure to fill in the parts in parentheses with your personal information:
My name is (your name) and I am in your (course and section number) class this semester. I have a VISA through RCPD and would like to request accommodations for your class. My VISA is attached to this email. I will plan to attend office hours (today/tomorrow/etc.) to discuss our plan for accommodations in your class. I'm looking forward to meeting you!
Meeting with Your Instructors
Meet with instructors 1-on-1 to discuss your VISA during office hours or a scheduled appointment time (in person or virtual). You should go through each accommodation you are requesting for the specific course and discuss a plan for implementation.
Following Up with Your Instructors
It is strongly encouraged for you to follow up with your professor via email after your meeting to outline and summarize your discussed plan for accommodations, including communication expectations. This is beneficial because…
There is written record of your VISA handover and meeting
There will be a written reminder of accommodation plans for both of you to reference
Continue communication throughout the semester to notify your professor of needed accommodations.
Keep a copy of your VISA with you or readily accessible in your email in case it needs to be referenced.
Even if you feel you may not require accommodations, RCPD highly encourages students to request and share their VISA early in the semester. If you experience unexpected disability impacts it is helpful to have already shared your VISA with your instructors or have a current copy, as this will eliminate further delay in requesting accommodations. It is best to have shared the VISA proactively as accommodations cannot be implemented retroactively.
VISA Distribution - Instructor Responsibilities
Faculty are responsible for maintaining confidentiality and for facilitating accommodations or adjustments outlined on the VISA/VISTA. The VISA/VISTA is a confidential document and should only be shared with need-to-know individuals who are part of the VISA/VISTA implementation process. If discussing student accommodations/adjustments with others is necessary, keep students' identities confidential as often as possible. Students' disability statuses must also be kept confidential from other students in the class. RCPD Ability Access Specialists and our Student Accommodations pages are resources for understanding how VISA/VISTAs are implemented.
- Assist students in finding a time to meet with you 1-on-1, especially if your scheduled office hours conflict with students’ other courses. Be open to meeting with students even if you don’t feel it is necessary. Many students value this time to learn about your course and expectations.
- Listen closely to students’ requests and assist students in planning for your course. Carefully review each student’s VISA as accommodations are individualized.
- Outline your course with each student to ensure mutual understanding of policies, communication expectations, and what is needed to ensure accommodations can be smoothly and effectively implemented.
- Contact a student’s RCPD Ability Access Specialist with questions or at the first sign of concern regarding use of accommodations.
- A unique reference number serves to validate the security and authenticity of the form as produced by RCPD
- RCPD welcomes feedback from faculty if concerns exist for negative impacts on course operations
- The student and associated RCPD Ability Access Specialists are named providing linkages should faculty need clarification or have concerns
- The back side contains background and summary of roles for each party
- The expiration date insures routine review of individualized needs
For more information, download a sample VISA.
VISA Addendums for Clinical Rotations and Field Placements
The VISA Addendum is primarily used for students who need accommodations in clinical rotations and field placement settings. Since the clinical/practical experiences are not classroom based, their accommodations don’t generally fit well on the VISA form. The addendum lists each accommodation and a determination based upon conversations with both the student and program faculty. A determination can come back as “granted,” “granted as modified,” or “denied.” Under each determination, there will be an explanation for how RCPD reached its determination for the accommodation. This process is highly interactive and individualized, so advance planning is important. Students will continue to use their VISA form for any classroom based accommodations.
What is a Reasonable Accommodation?
Under both the Americans with Disabilities Act, as recently amended, and Section 504 of the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, a reasonable accommodation is considered to be a modification or adjustment to a course, program, service, or facility, which ensures that a qualified student with a disability is not excluded, segregated, or otherwise treated differently.
- Reasonable accommodations are tailored adjustments that level the playing field.
- Reasonable accommodations must not compromise essential functions of the course or program.
- Reasonable accommodations are individually determined after review of medical documentation and an interactive needs assessment between an RCPD Ability Access Specialist and the student.
An accommodation would not be considered reasonable if it:
- Fundamentally alters the essential nature of the course, curriculum or program
- Constitutes services of a personal nature (such as private tutoring)
- Results in an undue administrative or financial burden for the institution
- Results in posing a direct threat to the health or safety of self or others