Guide to Handling an Accommodation Request

This guide provides information and important steps for responding to an accommodation request.

File: Guide-to-Handling-an-Accommodation-Request_3.4.2022.docx

(Last updated: March 4, 2022)


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 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.
    • 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 communication access real-time translation (CART), 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:

    • Ensure ample time to obtain the approved accommodation.
    • This guide provides more information about how to obtain a sign language interpreter, captioning or media captioning.

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.

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 Campus Disability Authority:

The following campus disability units can provide assistance:

Guide to Obtaining Sign Language Interpreting, Real-Time Captioning, Transcription, Media Captioning or Audio Descriptions

This guide provides information on how to obtain sign language interpreting, real-time translation/live captioning, transcription, or media (video) captioning for your event.

File: Guide-to-Obtaining-Sign-Language-Interpreting-Captioning-Transcription-Media-Captioning-or-Audio-Descriptions-11.28.2022.docx

(Last updated: November 28, 2022)


This guide provides information on how to obtain sign language interpreting, real-time/live captioning (CART), or media (video) captioning for your event.

Beginning 7/1/22, disability-related accommodations for sign language interpreting and CART services provided for UW-Madison units through the McBurney Disability Resource Center will now be centrally funded by the university. This includes accommodation requests for these services from students, staff, faculty, and visitors/guests.

If these services are provided proactively without a specific accommodation request, they will be billed to the respective department.

Sign Language Interpreting

Professional sign language interpreters can be hired in the following ways:

For more information about sign language interpreting, review this Professional Sign Language Interpreting guide from the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.

Professional Real-Time/Live Captioning (CART)

Professional CART captioners can be hired in the following ways:

For tips on hiring captioners, review this guide through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

Transcription, Media Captioning, and Audio Descriptions

Guide to Planning an Accessible Event

This guide provides information on how to plan and create an accessible, inclusive event for attendees.

File: Guide-to-Planning-an-Accessible-Event.docx

(Last updated: September 14, 2022)


Use this guide to create an accessible, inclusive event for everyone, including people with disabilities.

Event Announcement

    • Announce event early
    • Post announcement to program website, even if sending and email or flier:
      • Include Text of email attachments in email body to improve screen reader access.
        • Use the Center for User Experience’s Email guides for more suggestions.
    • Include an accessibility tagline statement informing attendees how to request a disability accommodation.

Event Materials

    • Include the following statement on printed event-materials:
      • “This document is available in alternative formats upon request by contacting (name, host department) at (phone number/email).”
    • Have program materials/documents available:
      • Electronically – Post to Box or Google drive and generate a shortened URL to provide to attendees
      • Large-print format – usually no smaller than font size 18

Parking and Transportation



      • Any shuttle service should have wheelchair lift.



Facilities Feature



    • Ensure main entrance is wheelchair accessible (no steps, door width at least 32”)
    • Avoid using a separate entrance for wheelchair users (if the building’s main entrance is not accessible, make the accessible entrance the main point of entry to create inclusion)
Emergency Exits
    • Emergency exits must be clearly marked and accessible
    • Restrooms must have accessible stalls
    • Automatic door openers are helpful
    • Host event on same floor as the accessible restroom to promote inclusion
    • Ensure elevator or ramp access for event space and restroom where stairs are present

Event Room/Space


Room/Space Features



Clear path of travel
    • Provide an unobstructed and 36″-minimum wide pathway throughout an event space allowing for wheelchair and mobility access
    • Cables, cords, and other items should not be draped across the pathway
    • Provide wheelchair accessible ramp if stage has steps
    • Stage space for wheelchair seating or passageway must be 36”-minimum
    • Designate seating space for wheelchair users and individuals with mobility disabilities:
      • Place space near projection screen and podium
      • Include companion seating next to reserved seating (usually 1-2 additional seats)
    • Reserve seating for sign language interpreters, captioners, or personal care attendants
    • Sign language interpreting or captioning must be provided if requested and approved as a reasonable accommodation
    • Consider the experience your audience has with the content to ensure communication access for all participants, with or without a disability:
      • Language
      • Vocabulary
      • Level of detail
    • Use a microphone for all verbal communication by anyone (speaker, audience)
    • If someone asks a question or speaks without a microphone, repeat what was said into the microphone
Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs)
    • Have ALDs available and synced to microphone for individuals who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing
Projection Screens
    • Use a screen to display content
    • Ensure display can be seen from all locations within a room

Other Considerations





Day of Event
    • Inform volunteers about locations of accessible bathrooms, parking, and emergency exits
    • Inform volunteers about any service providers – sign language interpreter or real-time captioner – who will be attending and supporting the event
    • If a guest didn’t request an accommodation, check in with them and see what they need to have access. Implement accommodations as possible given the short notice
Service Animals
    • Service animals are not pets and are generally permitted wherever the public can go. They are used by individuals with disabilities and have the following features:
      • Protected under disability laws
      • Usually a dog or miniature horse
      • Must be trained to perform a specific task or work for the individual with a disability
      • Must be under the handler’s control at all times. Service animals are not required to be leashed or tethered if it will interfere with the animal’s trained duties
      • Documentation is not required

      View this service animal guide for more information

Maintaining Accessible Events
    • Including accessibility features allows individuals with disabilities to independently access your event and reduces your obligation to provide a reasonable accommodation
    • Budget for accessibility features and accommodation requests

Questions and Additional Information


The Guide to Creating and Maintaining a Safe Learning and Work Environment at UW-Madison: Responsibilities, Resources, and Reporting Requirements provides you with this information on how to report and respond to acts of criminal behavior including sexual assault, sexual violence, and child abuse and neglect; and non-criminal behavior including sexual harassment and consensual relationships between employees. Training information and campus and community resources are also included.

File: Safe-Learning-and-Work-Guide-Spring-FY18-Highlights-Hmong.pdf

Safe Learning and Work Environments

All faculty and staff members at the University of Wisconsin-Madison share a responsibility to create safe learning and work environments and a positive campus climate. To do so requires all of us to understand certain federal and state compliance obligations, meet our reporting responsibilities, and know the appropriate campus resources to address safety concerns.

UW-Madison Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence

This policy prohibits acts of sexual harassment and sexual violence (including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking) in all programs and activities of the University.

This policy prohibits acts of sexual harassment and sexual violence (including sexual assault, dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking) in all programs and activities of the University.

UW-Madison Policy on Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence