The university’s disability and accessibility resources have expanded! The McBurney Disability Resource Center is pleased to introduce Annie Butler as UW–Madison’s first visitor and program participant access consultant. In this new role, Butler will support university programs by consulting on inclusive programming design and reasonable accommodations for participants with disabilities.
A UW–Madison alum from Cedarburg, Wisconsin, Butler is not a new face at the McBurney Center. She worked at the front desk as a disability program aide for nearly three years while working toward her undergraduate degree. After graduating in May 2022, she worked for the College of Engineering before returning to the McBurney Center.
“I am excited to collaborate closely with university partners to ensure they feel supported in their goals to make our community more accessible and inclusive,” Butler said. “I’m very passionate about making sure that visitors to the university are able to enjoy it to the fullest, just as I did.”
The McBurney Center ensures equal access for students with disabilities as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This new role expands accommodation support to UW program participants with disabilities. This includes the general public, workshop or summer camp participants, and continuing education. While university programs may continue to approve and implement reasonable accommodations on their own, Butler is available for consultation and training.
“We are thankful to our university leadership for recognizing a need for and approving this position,” said Ruben Mota, ADA coordinator in the Office of Compliance, who typically handled and assisted hosting units with accommodation requests. Mota noted the role needed to be separate from his since the university is required to have a grievance process that includes the ADA coordinator. “We raised this concern with Office of Compliance leadership and received support from Vice Chancellors Nancy Lynch, Lori Reesor, and Rob Cramer.”
Mari Magler, Director of the McBurney Center, shared, “We are excited to have Annie in this new position to support campus partners in ensuring equal access for campus visitors and individuals participating in programs offered by the university.”
In a brief Q&A, Butler discussed the opportunities for expanding accessibility and inclusivity at the university for all disabled individuals, including visitors and program participants.
Q: When would a unit contact you? Do I have to connect for every request we receive for our event?
A: You certainly do not have to connect with me for every request. If your team feels like you can confidently implement a request without consultation, I’d encourage you to do so. I am available as a resource to consult in situations where you are unsure if a request is reasonable or how to implement a request.
Q: How can I get ahold of you for consultation?
A: Using the Visitor/Guest/Program Participant Reasonable Accommodation Consultation Form that we’ve created is the preferred method, but you can also email me at email@example.com.
Q: Can you say more about accommodations for program participants? I thought we only had to provide accommodations for students and employees?
A: The ADA is a broad civil rights law. Disability rights are civil rights, so whether someone is a job applicant, student, program participant, or applying for admission to an academic program, the university must operate its programs, services, and activities to not discriminate against disabled individuals. When a disabled individual experiences a barrier, regardless of their affiliation to the university, we must provide a reasonable accommodation.
Q: What other resources are available to help me with designing my event to be inclusive and accessible?
A: UW has many resources to guide accessible events. Accessibility @ UW-Madison is a great place to start if you want to learn about a wide range of topics including digital accessibility, event accessibility, ableism awareness, and more. If looking for more specific information about event accessibility, the Office of Compliance has created a Guide to Planning an Accessible Event and an Accessible Event Checklist for easy reference.
UW also has two accessibility units: Center for User Experience and the Facility Access Program. These programs offer digital-inclusion and physical accessibility resources, such as the Make it Accessible Guide and the Disability Resource Guide, to help units design more inclusively.
Q: Is campus funding available to help meet my program participants’ accommodation needs?
A: The university recently approved centrally funding sign language interpreting, live captioning and media captioning required as a disability accommodation. Hosting units are required to cover the cost of all other accommodations. Any unit that is concerned about the cost of an accommodation can work with their divisional leadership or contact the McBurney Center or university ADA Coordinator for further information.
Q: What is one thing I can do right now to make my program more accessible?
A: It’s important to invite a diverse range of people to participate in your program. One easy way to ensure all participants feel welcome is to include an accessibility tagline statement in all communication pertaining to your event. This will create space for participants to easily request accommodations or make their needs known. The Office of Compliance has a Guide to Accessible Tagline Statements for Event Announcements with examples of statements and suggestions on where to include them.
In addition to the McBurney Center’s new role — alongside central funding support for sign language and live captioning requests, announced in spring/summer 2022 — a campus workgroup is developing a policy affirming the university’s requirement to provide reasonable accommodations to program participants. The workgroup includes staff from Campus and Visitor Relations, McBurney Center, General Libraries, and Recreation and Wellbeing.
Visit Accessibility @ UW-Madison and Accommodations for Visitors and Program Participants to learn more about accommodation resources for university programs.