Alternative Formats & Technology

Alternative formats provide access to information and knowledge for students with print-related disabilities including blindness, visual impairment, learning disabilities, and certain motor disabilities. Such services are provided at no cost to RCPD registered students with print-related disabilities, who are both deemed eligible for alternative formats and using the material in MSU credit-granting courses.

More information about Alternative formats can be found on our Accessible Textbooks/Media page.

Accommodation: Assistive Technology

Portable Electronic Aids

Students may bring devices to class such as laptops or notetakers.

Other Assistive Technology

Students may have other assistive technology accommodations on their VISAs, including use of smart pens, use of calculators, use of laptops for typing essay assessments, etc. If instructors have questions about a technology or device-related accommodation they should reach out to the student and their assigned specialist. 
 

Accommodation: Alternative Format or Electronic Materials, E-Text Eligible

Alternatives to Print 

Alternative format materials for those with print-related disabilities include: Braille (literary and scientific), audio, large print, tactile graphic, and electronic. These formats provide access to information and knowledge for persons with disabilities including blindness, visual impairment, learning disabilities, and certain motor disabilities. Such services are provided at no cost to RCPD registered students with print-related disabilities, who are both deemed eligible for alternative formats and using the material in MSU credit-granting courses. 

Preferred Document Format Key:   

  • BRL- Braille  
  • LP- Large Print 
  • EL- Electronic Format 

E-Text Eligible 

Faculty may see this on a student VISA but typically do not need to provide any extra materials. RCPD facilitates the E-Text process in partnership with students.  

Electronic text is a term used to describe print materials (often excluding graphics) available in machine-readable or computerized form. With today’s prevalence of electronic materials, faculty may also directly share relevant electronic materials with students and RCPD can help with instruction to make these efforts efficient and accessible. 

Student Responsibilities:  

  • The MSU STAR Books Database is an online books database listing thousands of books made available by the RCPD. (Tip: Remember the STAR web address: BOOKS.RCPD.MSU.EDU) 

  • If your book is not on the STAR database, please email Lina Wu at wulina@msu.edu and Angela Sebald at sebaldan@msu.edu. We will check to see if we can request your book from the publisher or other sources. Please make sure to include in the email the following information: 

    • Title of Book 

    • ISBN #

    • Course Number 

  • If the book is available through the publisher or other sources, we will place an order for it. Once we receive it, we will send you an email that we’ve received your book and you can download it from the STAR database. 

  • If your book is not available at through the publisher or other sources, we will ask you to bring your book to the RCPD. We will then cut/rebind and scan the book in and load it to the STAR database. If you rented the book, we can scan the book without cutting it, but this process takes longer. 

 

Classroom Accommodations

There are numerous classroom accommodations that students may have on their VISA's, including but not limited to the list below. Accommodations can be implemented differently than listed here if requested by the student and/or instructor. This should involve an interactive discussion between the student, instructor, and RCPD specialist. RCPD is a resource for determining whether accommodation requests different from below are reasonable.  

The list of classroom accommodations below may contain accommodations that you are currently not approved to use. Please consult with your Ability Access Specialist if you need additional services due to your disability. All accommodations are determined based on disability impacts and need to be verified by medical documentation.  

Accommodation: Preferential Seating

Accommodation: Preferential Seating

  • Students should notify instructors of intent to use this accommodation in advance.  
  • Students and instructors should work together to ensure there is a seating arrangement that works best for student learning.  
  • For example, the instructor may discreetly save a seat for a student at the front of the room.
Accommodation: Student May Audio Record Lectures

Accommodation: Student May Audio Record Lectures 

This is an accommodation to assist students in the note-taking process. Students with various disability impacts might utilize this accommodation to retrieve missed information or further clarification on concepts discussed in class.  

Students are responsible for recording lectures as needed after notifying the professor of their intent to record during the initial VISA meeting.  

Students who are granted this accommodation understand these recordings are for personal use and are not to be shared with others. If recordings are used inappropriately, instructors could refer the matter to the Student Conduct System for review.  

The MSU Dean of Students Office offers resources and processes for handling code of conduct concerns: https://deanofstudents.msu.edu/  

If needed, students and faculty can use this use agreement for recording of lectures: coming to our Document Index soon!  

Best practice: if an instructor has concerns about the recording of sensitive content shared in class, instructors can 1) make an announcement to make other students aware of possible recording and 2) facilitate an agreement with the student who is recording to stop during discussions that share personal and/or sensitive information.   

**Students, please contact your specialist for consultation on technology best suited to record lectures!  

Accommodation: Disability may require departure from class without penalty. If use of this accommodation becomes excessive or affects course integrity, please contact the student and specialist.

Accommodation: Disability may require departure from class without penalty. If use of this accommodation becomes excessive or affects course integrity, please contact the student and specialist.

Students with this accommodation may need to step out of class for a brief period to manage their condition. This might also mean leaving class early if their condition is unable to be managed in or near the classroom.  

Students with this accommodation are still required to meet all course requirements, including completing exams, quizzes, and homework. 

Student Responsibilities:

  • Use this accommodation in rare circumstances, only for reasons related to your disability.  
  • Communicate with your instructor regarding use of this accommodation immediately after the departed class period.  
  • Meet with your instructor to inquire about recovering missed material from them or a classmate and/or making up missed assignments 

Faculty Responsibilities:

  • Have an interactive discussion with the student regarding communication expectations when using this accommodation and strategies for recovering missed material. 
  • If you believe departures are becoming excessive, please communicate with the student and RCPD. RCPD specialists as identified on the VISA are available to consult on reasonable use of this accommodation.  
Accommodation: Disability may cause periodic unavoidable class absences. If absences become excessive or affect course integrity, please contact the student and specialist.

Accommodation: Disability may cause periodic unavoidable class absences. If absences become excessive or affect course integrity, please contact the student and specialist.

A major consideration for this accommodation is whether attendance is an essential, fundamental component of the course. Even though attendance is considered important and should be required, it may not be essential if the student could obtain the information, occasionally, from other sources such as classmates’ notes, lecture materials from the course website, and meeting with professors for summary information. 

There are definite instances where attendance flexibility is less reasonable or not reasonable. Lab courses without alternative sections, most foreign language courses, and classes which are extensively based on participation are all examples where attendance is essential as the information from such classes cannot be reproduced. 

  • This should be an individualized determination on a course-by-course and case-by-case basis.  

“Periodic” can ultimately depend on the course structure, attendance policy stated in the syllabus, whether in-person student participation is essential to the course, the impact that missing class will have on the experience of other students (ex: group project, discussion), and other factors related to the course and/or the student’s condition.  

  • For example: If the course attendance policy allows three unexcused absences per semester and in-class participation is an essential element for meeting course objectives, two additional absences due to disability impacts may be reasonable.

If the student and/or instructor become concerned about the use of this accommodation, they should immediately communicate with the student’s assigned Ability Access Specialist. Waiting until the end of the semester to discuss attendance concerns will cause extreme difficulties with intervention and making reasonable determinations.  

  • Students with this accommodation are still required to meet all course requirements, including completing exams, quizzes, and homework.  

  • If a disability-related absence occurs on a scheduled exam and/or quiz day, it may be reasonable to permit a make-up assessment. This does not cover the student to reschedule/miss assessments regularly or for non-disability related reasons.   

  • Absences for non-disability reasons are not excused by this accommodation. 

  • Providing documentation to a professor is not required when a student is absent due to a disability flare up.  

  • Like all accommodations, the accommodation periodic unavoidable absences cannot be implemented retroactively. Absence accommodation requests made late in the semester may not apply to absences that occurred earlier in the course.  

Student Responsibilities 

Use this accommodation in rare circumstances only for reasons related to your disability. Illness, personal conflicts, or other non-disability reasons are not covered by this accommodation and are held to the course policies.  

Students using this accommodation should communicate with their instructor(s) before class begins or immediately after the missed class period to inform them of the intent to use this accommodation. If you don’t promptly communicate with your instructor, the absence will not be considered an accommodation and will be graded based on the course policy.  

  • It is recommended to communicate use of this accommodation via email. 
  • You should also communicate your plan for making up missed work or gaining access to material missed in class.  
  • You must communicate with your instructor to inquire about recovering missed material from them or a classmate. 

If your absences are becoming frequent due to disability impacts and are affecting your ability to be successful in the course, consult with your Ability Access Specialist and/or academic advisor to discuss further options.  

  • Sample Email: Due to my disability, I will be absent from class and will need to implement my accommodation for periodic and unavoidable class absences. Can you please let me know what course content I am missing and when we can meet to discuss a way to make up any missed work?” 

Faculty Responsibilities  

  • Students use this accommodation in rare circumstances for reasons related to their disability.  
  • An absence due to disability impacts should not be included as an “excused absence” under an instructor’s attendance policy. 
  • Have an interactive discussion with the student regarding communication expectations and recovering missed material from you or a classmate.  
  • If you believe absences are becoming excessive, please communicate with the student and RCPD immediately. RCPD specialists are available to consult on reasonable use of this accommodation.  

Faculty Considerations

  • Is there regular classroom interaction between the instructor and the students and among the students themselves? 
  • Do student contributions in class constitute a significant component of the learning process? 
  • Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method of learning? 
  • To what degree does the student’s failure to attend class constitute a significant loss of the educational experience of the other students in the class? 
  • What do the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance? 
  • What is the method by which the final grade is calculated? 
Accommodation: In rare circumstances, student may need extended time for assignments. Student will contact professor if needed to request an alternate deadline.

Accommodation: In rare circumstances, student may need extended time for assignments. Student will contact professor if needed to request an alternate deadline. If use of this accommodation becomes excessive or affects course integrity, please contact the student and specialist.

Students are granted this accommodation when their condition is unpredictable and/or chronic in nature and they may need to request an extension for reasons directly related to disability challenges. As assignments often develop over time and are referenced on the syllabus, careful consideration is important as longer-term assignments are not surprise assignments and thus students are anticipated to make ongoing progress toward completion. The notion of rare” can ultimately depend on the course structure, amount of assignments throughout the semester, and other course factors. RCPD recommends that “rare” might mean 1 or 2 extensions per class, per semester for a typical course. 

  • Extended time granted may be advised by how long the assignment has been assigned for (with complete guidelines and materials available), the student’s progress on the assignment, course schedule, and student’s specific requests.  

  • RCPD specialists are available to consult on reasonable use of this accommodation. 

  • Sample Email: “Due to my disability, I will be unable to meet the [INSERT DUE DATE] deadline for [INSERT ASSIGNMENT NAME]. I would like to request additional time, per my VISA accommodation. I request the opportunity to submit the assignment on [INSERT NEW REASONABLE DEADLINE].”

Student Responsibilities  

  • Use this accommodation in rare circumstances only for reasons related to your disability impacts.  
  • Communicate with your instructor before the assignment is due to discuss use of this accommodation.  
  • Determine a specific due date and turn in your assignment according to this plan. Your instructors are not typically required to provide additional extensions if you cannot meet the new due date. 

Faculty Responsibilities  

  • Have an interactive discussion with the student who is requesting the extension. 
  • Use your judgement, the student’s request, and above guidelines to assist in determining an alternative due date.  
  • If you believe requests for extensions are becoming excessive, please communicate with the student and RCPD immediately. RCPD specialists are available to consult on reasonable use of this accommodation.  

  

Resources for People in Distress

Michigan State University and the surrounding community have numerous resources for individuals who are in crisis. You may contact a resource for yourself or another community member who you believe may need assistance.

If you are an MSU faculty/staff and have a student in crisis who you believe needs assistance, please consider the following resources. MSU RCPD does not provide 24-hour service and RCPD staff may not be able to immediately respond to communications via voicemail or email.

*Health and safety emergencies should be handled by dialing 911

MSU Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS)

During business hours MSU CAPS offers walk-in and scheduled appointments. CAPS is located at Olin Health Center, 3rd floor (463 E Circle Drive). Call (517) 355-8270. In crisis? CAPS offers emergency resources for students. 

MSU Center for Survivors

The MSU Center for Survivors provides counseling, advocacy, and support groups to MSU students who are sexual assault survivors and all others who are impacted by sexual violence..To schedule an appointment with a Counselor or Advocate, please call 517-355-3551 during regular business hours. Crisis Line: (517) 372-6666.

MSU Behavioral Threat Assessment Team (BTAT)

MSU BTAT exists to facilitate a multidisciplinary, coordinated response to reports of students, employees, or other individuals on campus who have engaged in behavior indicating a possible threat of harm to self or other members of the campus community.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP)

MSU EAP is a confidential counseling service provided at no cost to MSU faculty, staff, retirees, graduate student employees, and their families.

MSU Safe Place (Domestic Violence Shelter)

MSU Safe Place provides advocacy, emergency shelter, counseling, support groups, safety planning, information and referrals to survivors of violence and their minor children. All support services are free and confidential.

What's in a Name? Person-First Language

The Michigan Commission on Disability Concerns outlines what is appropriate language to use and what isn't when interacting with persons with disabilities. Person-first language acknowledges the person first, rather than the disability.
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