Brain injuries fall under two categories:

  1. Traumatic brain injuries, associated with trauma to the head or skull
  2. Acquired brain injuries, which occur on a cellular level and are not hereditary, congenital, or degenerative.

Even though traumatic and acquired brain injuries occur differently, both may impact the way a person thinks, feels, acts, and moves. Both types can also affect body functions and sensory perception. Each person with a brain injury is unique; physical disabilities, impaired learning, and personality changes are common. Accommodations will vary according to documentation.

Getting Started with RCPD

RCPD provides services and accommodations to persons with disabilities for both academic and workplace settings. Before receiving accommodations, students and employees must Identify and Register as a person with a disability and provide appropriate documentation of their disability to RCPD.

Step 1: Self-Identify

To get started in the process of registering with RCPD, start by self-identifying as a person with a disability. Use your MSU NetID and password to log into the MyProfile system to create a profile and initiate contact with RCPD. This process will then assign you to an Ability Access Specialist.

Step 2: Disability Documentation

Your assigned Ability Access Specialist will request for you to submit documentation of your disability. The disability documentation is necessary to verify the presence and severity of your disability. Documentation of a disability must appear on official letterhead from a licensed medical or diagnostic professional and include a diagnosis, scope or degree of involvement, and summary of related functional limitations. RCPD provides a downloadable Brain Injury Documentation Form that may be used by medical providers to document conditions.

Step 3: Needs Assessment

Once your Ability Access Specialist has received sufficient disability documentation, they will reach out to arrange a Needs Assessment meeting. During this meeting reasonable accommodations are discussed and determined.


The MSU Disability and Reasonable Accommodation Policy provides additional guidance.

Implementing Accommodations

RCPD recognizes that accommodations may be required in order to assist individuals in maximizing their educational and workplace experience at MSU. While the university provides reasonable accommodations, we do not change essential academic requirements or job functions. Accommodation determinations are based on documentation and an individualized needs assessment.

The MSU Disability and Reasonable Accommodation Policy provides additional guidance.

Student Accommodations

Students will receive a Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations letter, otherwise known as a VISA. The VISA is the primary method for students to communicate their RCPD approved accommodations to course instructors. A similar document that performs the same functions as a VISA for students with conditions of a temporary nature is known as a VISTA.

Students registered with the RCPD should contact their assigned specialist by phone, email, or by scheduling a meeting to request their VISA.

  • The VISA typically has an expiration date, so students will need to request an updated VISA at least 2 weeks prior to when a current VISA is needed.
  • Accommodations are not retroactive and will not apply to events or situations that occurred prior to the student notifying and providing a copy of the VISA to the course instructor.
  • Accommodations can be updated at anytime and students should reach out to their assigned specialist to discuss this further.

Employee Accommodations

Employees will receive a Statement of Employee Accommodation Determination letter, otherwise known as a SEAD. The SEAD is issued by the Office of Employee Relations (OER), when an accommodation is granted. The employee should then work with their supervisor to discuss implementation of the SEAD.

Understanding Brain Injuries

Regardless of the source of the injury, symptoms of brain injury vary in type and severity for each individual. This depends on the degree of the injury and the area of the brain that is injured. Results of a brain injury include impairment of cognitive abilities and/or physical functioning. Each part of the brain controls specific functions of the body such as vision, physical movement, speech, memory, and emotions.

Loss of consciousness may occur lasting from a few minutes to weeks (coma). A brain injury without the loss of consciousness may go initially undiagnosed with the individual encountering significant problems in their attempts to resume daily activities.

Symptoms of Cognitive Disabilities and Brain Injury may include:

Physical: speech impairments, paralysis, headaches, vision, seizure disorder, muscle spasticity

Cognitive: concentration & attention, perception, planning & organizing, written & oral communication, short- and long-term memory, judgment, sequencing, orientation

Behavioral/Emotional: fatigue, anxiety, self-esteem, restlessness & agitation, mood swings, depression, sexual dysfunction, lack of motivation, difficulty coping, self-centeredness

Confidentiality & Mandatory Reporting

The RCPD adheres to strict standards of confidentiality in the management of student information. Since RCPD is the only holder of disability documentation, all disability-related documentation should be directed to RCPD (not other campus departments).

The RCPD staff are designated as mandatory reporters and must promptly report incidents of sexual harassment, sexual violence, sexual misconduct, stalking, and relationship violence that are observed or learned about in their professional capacity and involve a member of the university community or occurred at a university-sponsored event or on university property.

Dispute Resolution

RCPD Ability Access Specialists are committed to an active partnership with students and employees who make reasonable accommodation requests through our office. In the case you experience a disagreement regarding disability determination or appropriateness of accommodations, you may consider taking the steps outlined in our dispute resolution process.

Building Community

MSU provides many venues for collaboration and community building on disability issues. Please consider becoming involved in the following organizations:

Frequently Asked Questions

Will RCPD inform my professors about my accommodations?

Once registered with the RCPD, the student receives an accommodation letter, called a VISA. Students are responsible for presenting this VISA to each professor at the start of the semester during office hours. It is important to go over the VISA to coordinate accommodations.

What accommodations will I receive for my disability?

Each person and setting is unique and needs will vary. Accommodations are determined during a confidential needs assessment with an Ability Access Specialist.

How do I make arrangements to have my service or assistance animal on campus?

Students and employees with a disability who wish to utilize a service or assistance animal on campus should reference the Service Animal Policy page.

How does MSU facilitate note taking services?

Students work with their Ability Access Specialist to identify an individualized solution. Solutions often include: technology assisting independent note taking, shared notes with a peer, or other approaches. Visit the Accessing Note Taking Assistance page for a generalized overview of possibilities.

What is the procedure for ice and snow removal on campus?

The MSU Infrastructure Planning and Facilities Department (IPF) is responsible for snow and ice control in support of the University's daily operations. 

If students or employees encounter areas where snow removal has not been sufficient please report the area by calling or texting IPF at (517) 353-1760. For more information, visit RCPD's Snow Removal page

What kind of transportation is available on and off campus?

The Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) provides fixed route services on and off campus, covering all of Ingham County. MSU provides complimentary bus services for on-campus routes.

CATA buses are equipped with ramps or lifts, and run every 7 to 35 minutes depending on the route. CATA also provides a curb-to-curb, advanced reservation (1 day prior) transit service for persons with disabilities, called Spec-Tran. For more information about CATA, visit their website at

For more information about campus accessible parking and transportation, see RCPD's page. 

Will I receive the same accommodations that I got in high school?

Upon registering with RCPD, you will talk to an Ability Access Specialist about the appropriate accommodations for your disability during an individualized needs assessment. While RCPD takes historical accommodations into consideration, the college environment has different demands that may shape essential functions and accommodations. Visit our Future Students page for information about coming to Michigan State University. 

I'm having trouble in my class, where can I find tutoring?

First, talk to your professor during office hours for ideas on how to succeed in the class. The Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative (NSSC) also offers a variety of resources and supports. 

What if I disagree with the disability determination or level of accommodation I receive?

RCPD Specialists are committed to an active partnership with students and employees who make reasonable accommodation requests through our office. In the case you experience a disagreement regarding disability determination or appropriateness of accommodations, you may consider taking the steps outlined in our dispute resolution process.

What campus organizations focus on disability issues? 

Several organizations on campus exist including: 

To learn more about CSD, Tower Guard, and the Adaptive Sports & Recreation Club, please visit Department of Student Life's Registered Student Organizations or contact your RCPD Ability Access Specialist.