Michigan State University provides services and accommodations to persons who are deaf or hard of hearing for both academic and workplace settings. RCPD's Deaf/Hard of Hearing Ability Access Specialist works with students, staff, and faculty to access accommodations and campus resources. 

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 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. A copy of an audiogram is also necessary to document hearing loss. Please include your audiogram with the letter from the medical professional. RCPD provides a downloadable Hearing Loss 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.

Housing & Dietary Accommodations

MSU offers a variety of on-campus living and dining options. Each living environment features unique design and atmosphere. Most housing options on campus offer units that meet the needs of students with disabilities (including but not limited to: lighted fire alarms, bed/pillow shakers, doorbells, etc.). A student with a disability in need of a housing accommodation must identify and register with the RCPD in advance, and work with their assigned specialist to facilitate the housing accommodation request process. More information about accommodations for housing and dining can be found on our Housing and Campus Life page.

Visit the MSU Housing Live On website for more information on campus housing.

American Sign Language (ASL) and CART Services


The RCPD is fully engaged in providing ASL and Real-Time Captioning services for RCPD registered students who are deaf or hard of hearing and meet eligibility criteria.  These services are provided by RCPD at no cost to the student or department when used in credit-granting courses at MSU.

Employees, Visitors, Extracurricular Activities, and Non-credit Courses  

MSU departments are responsible for filling ASL and Real-Time Captioning requests in situations that are not for students in credit-granting MSU courses. State regulations mandate use of state-registered, appropriately-qualified ASL interpreters as identified at LARA's Michigan Online Interpreter System. Using ASL interpreters who are not certified by the State of Michigan may cause the University and the Department to incur noteworthy fines and penalties.  Using this registry allows departments to directly contract with service providers which may represent cost savings over agency coordination services as the agencies necessarily charge a per hour fee for a Real-Time Captioner or ASL interpreting team to reclaim real costs associated with service coordination.

Some regional agency ASL Interpreting and Real-Time Captioning services that the RCPD has successfully used are listed below. Some have the ability to provide remote services using a laptop, tablet or mobile device for urgent needs.


  1. Screen Line, Inc., Contact: Sue Deer, Phone: (517) 627-2500, Email: sdeerhall@msn.com
  2. Archer Captioning, Contact: Elizabeth Archer, Phone: (503) 319-0122, Email: Elizabeth@ArcherCaptioning.com
  3. Karasch & Associates, Phone: 800-621-5689

ASL Interpreting

  1. Sorenson Community Interpreting Services, Contact: Candace Bruton - National Accounts Consultant, Phone: 757-472-3048, 24-Hour Toll Free: 800-659-4783Email: communityinterpreting@sorenson.com
  2. Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services (Grand Rapids): 3680 44th St. SE – Suite 201 Kentwood, MI 49512Phone: 616-732-7358Fax: 616-732-7365, After Hours: 616-732-6124, Email: InterpreterServices@Deafhhs.org   
  3. Deaf Community Advocacy Network2111 Orchard Lake Rd. Suite #101 Sylan Lake, MI 48320Phone: 248-332-3331Emergency Phone: 248-523-1998Email: deafcan@deafcan.org
Confidentiality & Mandatory Reporting

RCPD adheres to strict standards of confidentiality in the management of student information. Since RCPD is the only holder of disability documentation; therefore, all disability-related documentation should be directed to RCPD (not other campus departments). The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf Code of Professional Conduct regarding confidentiality binds all sign language interpreters. All CART providers who offer captioning services for the RCPD adhere to the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) Code of Professional Ethics (for providers in a non-legal setting)

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 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 www.cata.org.

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. 

How do students make a request for an interpreter or real-time captioner?

Visit the Team RCPD page to make an appointment with the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Ability Access Specialist. The specialist will assess your individual needs. See this page to learn how to register RCPD. 

Are MSU campus events and activities interpreted or captioned?

If there is a specific event that you would like to attend you may request an interpreter or real-time captioner by contacting the department sponsoring the event.

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.