Guide to Handling an Accommodation Request

Download Guide to Handling an Accommodation Request

(Last updated: April 7, 2023)


UW-Madison is committed to ensuring its programs, services, and events are accessible and provides reasonable accommodations to students, employees, program participants, visitors and guests with disabilities in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Event hosts are responsible for timely responding to requests for accommodations and providing reasonable accommodations.

Information and important steps for responding to an accommodation request are provided in this guide. For more information, contact the ADA Coordinator.

Responding to an Accommodation Request

    • Provide an accessibility tagline statement on the event website or publication to inform participants how they can request a reasonable accommodation. It is important to advise participants how much notice you need to obtain or implement an accommodation. Two weeks is generally advised.
    • Acknowledge the request as soon as possible, within 24-72 hours.
    • Clarify with the requester if a specific accommodation is not requested.
    • If the request is straightforward or seems feasible, let the requester know it is approved and begin organizing the accommodation.
    • If the requested accommodation is not straightforward or does not appear to be reasonable, engage in the interactive process with the requester to determine the accommodation or the barriers to address to make the event accessible. Contact the McBurney Disability Resource Center’s Visitor Access Consultant for assistance.
    • If an accommodation is requested at the event without prior notice, do not panic. Ask what you can do to try to accommodate and do your best. Inquire what you can do post-event (e.g., send a recording or transcript of the event) to include the participant to the greatest extent possible.

Interactive Process

This is a conversation with the requester to determine the reasonable accommodation when the requested accommodation seems unreasonable, is unclear, or the disability and nature of its impact are not obvious. The interactive process can occur in-person or over phone, video conferencing, or email, and strives to determine how event access can be secured for the requester based on the nature of the disability, or what the barriers are that need to be addressed.

The following questions can help in determining the reasonable accommodation. Information obtained during the interactive process should be kept confidential and only shared with those with a legitimate need-to-know, such as in securing or implementing the accommodation:

    • What is the disability and the nature of its impact?
    • What are the barriers of the event’s design or service that are directly related to the disability?
    • What accommodations do you need to have access to this event?
    • What are accommodations you have received in the past for a similar event?

Determining if an Accommodation is Reasonable

Accommodations that do not fundamentally alter or change a program or service, or result in an undue administrative burden or hardship to the university are reasonable. The cost of an accommodation is generally not considered an undue hardship to the university, however, with the exception of accommodations that ensure effective communication, such as sign language interpreting or professional live captioning, the university may implement alternative accommodations that are effective in lieu of the requested accommodation.

Secure the Approved Accommodation

If the requested accommodation is reasonable, or if there is an alternative accommodation that is effective, work to secure the accommodation after confirming with the requester the accommodation will be provided:

Denying an Accommodation

A timely requested accommodation request may not be denied without first engaging in the interactive process and consulting with a University Disability Authority. All requesters who have been denied an accommodation must be informed, in writing when possible, of their appeal rights. Contact the Visitor Access Consultant before issuing your decision.

Accommodation Cost

Hosting units are responsible for covering the cost of accommodations. In rare circumstances when an accommodation exceeds an unit’s budget, the unit should consult with their school, college, or division. The cost of a reasonable accommodation is typically not a sufficient reason to deny the request.

Questions or Need Assistance?

Contact a University Disability Authority:

The following university accessibility units can provide assistance: