RCPD's LD/ADHD Ability Access Specialists work closely with individuals to coordinate accommodations and programs to develop academic, employment and personal success strategies

Learning Disabilities (LDs) are neurological processing disorders that affect individuals' basic learning skills, such as reading, writing, and/or math. They can also affect skills such as time management, organization, memory, and attention. LDs vary from person to person and can vary greatly in severity. Examples of LDs include: 

  • Dyslexia: difficulty in reading
  • Dyscalculia: difficulty in math
  • Dysgraphia: difficulty in written expression 


Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD) are diagnosed neurodevelopmental disorders that substantially limits one or more major life activities, such as concentrating or performing essential job functions.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Distractibility (poor sustained attention to tasks)
  • Impulsivity (impaired impulse control and delay of gratification)
  • Hyperactivity (excessive activity and physical restlessness)

Please keep in mind that the exact nature and severity of ADHD symptoms varies from person to person. ADHD is broken down into three different subtypes: Combined Type, Predominantly Inattentive Type, and Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive Type.

RCPD's LD/ADHD Ability Access Specialists work closely with individuals to coordinate accommodations and programs to develop academic, employment and personal success strategies

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.

Learning Disability Documentation:

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 Learning Disabilities form that may be used by medical providers to document conditions.

ADHD Documentation:

Persons with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder must provide completed ADHD documentation. A recent diagnostic report with equivalent information from an appropriate professional is also acceptable. The documentation must be recent (a suggested guideline for recency is five years) and include a case history.

For students matriculating directly from high school, a copy of the most recent individualized educational plan plus a complete copy of the latest psychological assessments are needed by RCPD. If the student was tested outside the public school system, a complete copy of the psychological assessment should be provided.

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.

ADHD Documentation

Persons with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder must provide completed ADHD documentation. A recent diagnostic report with equivalent information from an appropriate professional is also acceptable. The documentation must be recent (a suggested guideline for recency is five years) and include a case history.

For students matriculating directly from high school, a copy of the most recent individualized educational plan plus a complete copy of the latest psychological assessments are needed by RCPD. If the student was tested outside the public school system, a complete copy of the psychological assessment should be provided.

After documentation of a disability has been provided and a needs assessment is completed, reasonable accommodations are determined. RCPD will provide a verification letter that includes: (a) verification of disability and status as a student or employee registered with the RCPD (b) an outline of reasonable accommodations.

Students will receive a Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations letter, otherwise known as a VISA.

Employees will receive a Statement of Employee Accommodation Determination letter, otherwise known as a SEAD.

Confidentiality & Manditory 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 & Resources

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

Accommodating Technology Committee

Council of Students with Disabilities

Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD)

President's Advisory Committee on Disability Issues

Stern Tutoring and Alternative Techniques for Education (STATE)

Accessible Textbooks/Media

Assistive Technology

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 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.

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. 

Programs & Resources

    Stern Tutoring and Alternative Techniques for Education (STATE) Program

    Generously funded by Mickey and Debbie Stern, the Stern Tutoring and Alternative Techniques for Education (STATE) endowment began providing innovative and important assistance for MSU students with learning disabilities in the spring of 2004. The program provides a structured environment, effective learning strategies, academic tutoring, and other academic support.  STATE provides disability-specific instructional, tutorial, and peer mentoring components as well as strategies for academic success. 

    Seminar (Constructing Success: Foundations and Bridges)

    The heart of the STATE Program is an instructional seminar on successful learning strategies and harnessing support services for lifelong impact. STATE participants develop awareness, acceptance, critical thinking skills, and positive study habits necessary for academic excellence. Dynamic MSU academic specialists facilitate a personalized experience that fosters growth and achievement of goals. Regular meetings with program staff occur throughout the semester, creating opportunities to evaluate the efficacy of new academic techniques and to integrate all components of the program.

    Tutoring

    Another important piece of the STATE Program offers students individual tutoring in the course he or she identifies as the most challenging. Students are also empowered to meet with their professors directly.  

    Peer Mentoring

    The STATE Program also includes peer mentoring. Each STATE participant is grouped into a team which is supported by each of the peer mentors. These mentors are students registered with RCPD who demonstrate academic success despite having a learning disability. Mentors attend each session of the seminar and are available to the STATE participants throughout the semester. This relationship assists in adapting and implementing seminar ideas to fit individual needs and experiences. Peer mentors are trained to build on students' knowledge while introducing new resources. STATE Program students may later become peer mentors, an experience that will further develop leadership skills.

    Assistive Technology

    Program participants are introduced to various assistive technologies, such as Kurzweil 3000, Dragon Dictate, and electronic books. Individual assessments for appropriate assistive technologies are available through the Assistive Technology Specialist or the Assistive Technology Trainer. Students receive instruction in the use and application of assistive technologies that improve reading and writing performance.

    The STATE program expands study strategies to facilitate academic success at the collegiate level. Students also learn behaviors and attitudes which further educational and life goals. Participants are registered with a documented learning disability, have struggled academically, and display strong motivation to improve their academic achievement by adopting new techniques. Each semester 15-20 students are accepted and participants attend weekly seminar and mentor meetings. Additional expectations for STATE participants include utilizing all appropriate support resources available and applying the principles and strategies suggested to their own learning. For more information, contact your Ability Access Specialist.

    STATE Program in Action

    The STATE Program oral history clip presentation demonstrates the work the program achieves through the words of actual instructors, mentors and participants.

    This donor-supported program provides awareness and expanded opportunity for persons with disabilities. You can help support this initiative or find out more about other RCPD programs and giving opportunities by visiting the Make a Gift page.

  • Carlson Accessible Media Program (CAMP)
  • Student Resources
  • Assistive Technology
  • Accessible Textbooks/Media