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.

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 in this guide. 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.  

Meeting with Your Instructors

Meet with instructors 1-on-1 to discuss your VISA during office hours or a scheduled appointment time. 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… 

  1. There is written record of your VISA handover and meeting  

  2. 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.

Best Practices

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.

  1. 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. 
  2. Listen closely to students’ requests and assist students in planning for your course. Carefully review each student’s VISA as accommodations are individualized. 
  3. 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.  
  4. Contact a student’s RCPD Ability Access Specialist with questions or at the first sign of concern regarding use of accommodations.  
VISA/VISTA 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 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.

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

For some examples of the VISA process from both a student and faculty perspective, check out the RCPD VISA videos below.

VISAs - Student Perspective

VISAs - Faculty Perspective

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.