Disability-related Offices on Campus
- Student Accessibility: McBurney Center
- Employee Accessibility: Employee Disability Resources
- Campus ADA Coordinator
The McBurney Disability Resource Center is the dedicated provider of access and accommodation services for UW-Madison students. The Center, and its access consultants, work with students, faculty, and staff to determine appropriate academic accommodations and to support the implementation of those accommodations. The McBurney Disability Resource Center has worked with GPSD since we were founded, to collaborate towards building a more accessible learning and working environment for graduate students.
The Employee Disability Resources office coordinates the network of Divisional Disability Representatives, staff employees who are designated within each school and college to support students with disabilities working on campus. If you are looking for accommodations support to fulfill your employment responsibilities (as a TA, RA, or SA, for example), the EDR office oversees and facilitates such processes. At the student’s request, consultants in the EDR may work together with the student’s McBurney consultant to determine appropriate accommodations for activities that span both academic and employment roles.
Additionally, here is a document we created to help navigate the process of applying for accommodations as an employee: student-employee-disability-request.pdf
The ADA Coordinator coordinates the University’s compliance to disability non-discrimination statutes such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, among others. He works closely with the McBurney Disability Resource Center, which serves students with disabilities, the Employee Disability Resources Office, which supports employees with disabilities working on campus, the Center for User Experience which coordinates campus’s digital accessibility, and the Facilities Access Specialist within the Division of Facilities Planning and Management, who works on facilities access issues. Along with this group, the ADA Coordinator reviews and updates policies and procedures so that UW-Madison and its programs are accessible to students, employees, visitors, and guests. The Coordinator’s specific role to graduate students is to answer any questions about disability, disability laws and policies such as service and emotional support animals, as well as decide any appeals concerning the denial of an accommodation.
The current ADA Coordinator, Ruben Mota, started in this role in January 2020. Prior to joining the Office of Compliance, Ruben worked on campus at the McBurney Disability Resource Center as an Associate Director for Student Services and Assistant Director of Accommodation Services from 2013 to 2020. He is always happy to meet to discuss ideas and initiatives that advance inclusion and access. You can reach Ruben at: firstname.lastname@example.org
For a listing of all campus-wide policies relating to disability access, visit the Policy Library, search: “disability.”
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Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life such as employment, state and local government agencies (which includes UW-Madison), transportation, telecommunication, and places that are open to the general public. This law affirms that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as individuals without disabilities. The ADA was passed in 1990 and amended in 2008.
Access for Students with Disabilities (UW-855)
Access for Students with Disabilities (UW-855) is a policy that ensures compliance by UW-Madison with all relevant campus-wide, state-wide, and national policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability. UW-855 says that the university must provide reasonable accommodations to qualified students with disabilities to access and participate in its academic programs and educational services.
The Graduate School Policy on Disability Accommodations
The Graduate School Disability Accommodations policy describes the shared responsibility between graduate students and their faculty advisors or instructors to implement reasonable accommodations when needed. The student is encouraged to inform their faculty advisor and instructor of their need for disability-related accommodations in a timely manner. Faculty, either directly or in coordination with the McBurney Disability Resource Center, are expected to work with students to identify and provide reasonable accommodations.
UW-Madison Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Policy (UW-300)
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Equal Employment Opportunity (UW-300) policy covers the University’s commitment to providing equal opportunity in employment and advancement to all qualified individuals and, in accordance with applicable federal and state statutes and regulations prohibiting discrimination in employment on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, marital status, pregnancy, genetic information, disability, military service, protected veteran status, honesty testing, arrest record or conviction record. As such, UW-300 upholds the University’s commitment to providing reasonable accommodations for individuals with disabilities to ensure equal access to employment and programs.
Graduate Assistantship Policies and Procedures (GAPP, or UW-5082)
The GAPP (UW-5082) covers the current body policies and procedures that apply to Graduate Student Assistances (TAs, PAs, and RAs). It asserts the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s commitment to creating “an accessible and inclusive campus experience for all members of the campus community,” including by providing reasonable workplace accommodations.
This little-known resource on campus may be of use if you think you may have a disability, but have never been tested and are looking for a cost-effective way of being assessed. Housed in the Educational Psychology Department, in the School of Education, Student Assessment Services is a student training facility that provides psycho-educational evaluation of UW–Madison students who are experiencing attention and learning problems that interfere with their academic performance.
CHAMP pairs up undergraduate and graduate students with chronic pain, illnesses, or disabilities. Mentors meet with their mentees at least once per month to share experiences, provide guidance, and get to know each other. While CHAMP provides tailored mentorship specifically to undergraduates, GPSD members who’ve participated in CHAMP as mentors describe it as a very rewarding experience. Mentoring others is a really good way to process the deeper significance of your own experiences and apply the wisdom you’ve gained to places you hadn’t considered before, in your own life and across your social networks.
The UW Disability Studies Initiative is a group of UW-Madison faculty who have developed "a transdisciplinary program dedicated to advancing knowledge by, about, and for people with disabilities." As these scholars define it, Disability Studies "explores models and theories that examine social, political, cultural, and economic factors that define disability and help determine personal and collective responses to difference." You can learn about events that the group's faculty members are organizing or supporting, connect with resources that they recommend, and read about their scholarly and advocacy work.
The Healthy Academics Initiative was developed by University Health Services Prevention & Campus Health Initiatives to provide information and tools that will help all members of the UW-Madison academic community to build and enjoy an environment where they can thrive. Visit their Health-Promoting Strategies & Resources page for the full menu of tools they offer to help you, your colleagues, and (if you are a TA) your own students have a healthier intellectual experience.