During summer 2023, RCPD transitioned our language from "VISA" to "Accommodation Letter" ("VISTA" to "Temporary Adjustment Letter").
The Accommodation Letter is the primary method of documentation that enables students to communicate their accommodations to faculty. A similar form of documentation is called a Temporary Adjustment Letter and performs the same functions for students with temporary conditions. The Accommodation Letter is individualized and cannot be generated until a student becomes registered with RCPD.
The Accommodation Letter is a confidential document. Students share their own Accommodation Letter with faculty as necessary after receiving the document from their RCPD Ability Access Specialist. Faculty should only share Accommodation Letters with need-to-know individuals who are a necessary part of the accommodation/adjustment implementation process. See more information under the "Accommodation Letter Distribution - Instructor Responsibilities" menu on this page.
Expand the below menus for additional information about the Accommodation Letter process.
Requesting Your Accommodation Letter
If you are a student who is already registered with RCPD, it is your responsibility to request an Accommodation Letter from your assigned Ability Access Specialist.
Accommodation Letters have an expiration date that is listed at the top right corner of the document. If an Accommodation Letter 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 Accommodation Letter, you will need to schedule an appointment with your assigned specialist.
Accommodation Letter Distribution - Student Responsibilities
Providing Your Accommodation Letter
At the beginning of each semester you should distribute a copy of your Accommodation Letter 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 Accommodation Letter to the instructor AND TAs of the course, unless instructed otherwise by faculty. Students should give their Accommodation Letter to each course instructor as early in the semester as possible. Students are encouraged to provide an Accommodation Letter 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 Accommodation Letter. Be sure to fill in the bolded parentheses with your personal information:
My name is (your name) and I am in your (course and section number) class this semester. I have an Accommodation Letter through RCPD and would like to request accommodations for your class. My Accommodation Letter is attached to this email. I will plan to attend office hours (today/tomorrow/etc.) to discuss our plan for accommodations in your class.
For reference, I plan to use the following accommodations in your class:
- (Accommodation A): this applies in your course because (...)
- (Accommodation B): this applies in your course because (...)
I'm looking forward to meeting you!
Meeting with Your Instructors
Meet with instructors 1-on-1 to discuss your Accommodation Letter 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 Accommodation Letter 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 Accommodation Letter 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 Accommodation Letter early in the semester. If you experience unexpected disability impacts it is helpful to have already shared your Accommodation Letter with your instructors or have a current copy, as this will eliminate further delay in requesting accommodations. It is best to have shared the Accommodation Letter proactively as accommodations cannot be implemented retroactively.
Accommodation Letter Distribution - Instructor Responsibilities
Faculty are responsible for maintaining confidentiality and for facilitating accommodations or adjustments outlined on the Accommodation Letter. The Accommodation Letter is a confidential document and should only be shared with need-to-know individuals who are part of the Accommodation Letter 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 Accommodation Letter 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 Accommodation Letter 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.
Accommodation Letter Characteristics
- A unique reference number serves to validate the security and authenticity of the form as produced by RCPD
- RCPD welcomes feedback from faculty if there are concerns for accommodations negatively impacting course operations
- The student and associated RCPD Ability Access Specialists are named on the form, should faculty need clarification or have concerns
- The back side contains background and summary of roles for each party
- The expiration date ensures routine review of individualized needs
For more information, download a sample Accommodation Letter.
Accommodation Letter Addendums for Clinical Rotations and Field Placements
The Accommodation Letter 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 Accommodation Letter 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 Accommodation Letter 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
Temporary Accommodation Letter Forms
Temporary Accommodation Letter Forms are created for students with temporary conditions and/or conditions requiring additional documentation. The Temporary Accommodation Letter lists temporary academic adjustments, which instructors should treat the same as permanent Accommodation Letter accommodations during the time the adjustments are valid.
Sometimes, Temporary Accommodation Letter conditions will later become permanent, and an Accommodation Letter will be created for the student. Other times, when the Temporary Accommodation Letter expires the student no longer needs academic adjustments and services cease. There is an expiration date at the top right corner of the form; if an instructor receives an expired Temporary Accommodation Letter, they should reach out to the student and specialist, who are listed on the form.