The McBurney Disability Resource Center is the designated entity on campus to collect and review all disability documentation as it relates to UW-Madison disability-related housing and academic accommodations. McBurney staff communicate with UW-Madison University Housing staff regarding the functional limitations experienced by a student as verified in the disability documentation. While students should contact the University Housing Assignment Office by email or by phone (voice/Relay711) (608)262-2522 to request housing accommodations, disability or medical documentation is sent to the McBurney Center.
Who is eligible for housing accommodations?
Students with documented long-term or permanent disabilities or serious medical conditions may request housing accommodations. To be eligible for housing accommodations the student must have a disability, the disability must necessitate adjustments to the living environment, and the request process must be completed before room assignments are made.
University Housing will make every effort to accommodate housing requests for students who acquire a disability or medical condition after room assignments are made; however, some accommodations may be limited by housing availability.
How do I request disability-related housing accommodations?
You need to follow the standard University Housing contract and assignment process for all students (Step 1a. OR 1b) by the corresponding deadlines AND, in parallel, request disability-related housing accommodations (Step 2.) so accommodations can be considered in your assignment.
Step 1a. Undergraduates: Completing the Standard Steps for University Housing Residence Halls
- Incoming freshman/transfer students will receive a housing contract offer via email after you are admitted to UW-Madison. Submit your completed housing contract to Housing by the deadline specified in the email. If you currently are a UW-Madison student but do not live in University Housing, you will need to apply for housing.
- Submit your hall preferences to University Housing by the standard deadline.
- Review housing information, including the Residence Hall Comparison, Residence Hall Information, Dining Locations & Hours, Residential Learning Communities, and the Campus Map (search for “residence hall”), for more information and locations.
- Consider a General Residential Hall Tour.
- If you have a significant mobility limitation that requires accommodation, tours of some of the halls and rooms can be arranged. Please be aware that very few residence hall rooms have private bathrooms.
- University Housing will contact you or your McBurney Accommodation Specialist with any questions about your housing accommodations during or after the hall assignment process.
Step 1b. Undergraduate Students with Families and Graduate Students: Completing the Standard Steps for University Housing Apartments
- Read more about the University Apartments.
- Apply Online for University Apartments as soon as you are interested in studying at UW-Madison. It is important to apply early as the University Apartments usually fill up quickly.
- If you become eligible for a lease, University Housing will contact you or your McBurney Accommodation Specialist with any questions about your housing accommodations during or after the apartment assignment process.
Step 2. Completing the Accommodation Request Steps for University Housing
Note: Students are encouraged to complete the following steps by May 1st. Housing assignments begin in May for the fall, thus accommodations for requests made after May 1st may be limited by housing availability.
- Email the University Housing Assignment Office with your specific requests (wheelchair accessibility, devices/alarms for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, etc.). Early notification is required so appropriate accommodations can be identified.
- Follow the McBurney Center instructions to Apply for Accommodations and indicate you are requesting Housing accommodations.
- After the appropriate documentation has been submitted and you have completed the intake process, McBurney staff will determine your eligibility for services and make a recommendation to University Housing regarding your housing accommodation requests. All recommendations are made on a case by case basis and through an interactive process. Early contact with both University Housing and McBurney is critical in order to fairly assess your needs and identify reasonable housing accommodations.
- New freshman are encouraged to register for and attend McBurney’s MOST orientation program so that they can move in early.
Under what circumstances could a housing accommodation request be denied?
Requests are generally denied for three reasons:
- Documentation does not indicate a substantial limitation to a major life activity (i.e., the student does not have a disability).
- The disability-related need does not require an alteration to the living environment. For example, students with AD/HD, learning disabilities or psychological disabilities who request a private room in order to have a quiet study area can have that need met through use of the libraries and other spaces around campus that are suitable for quiet study.
- A student makes a late request for a room that is no longer available. For example, University Housing has wheelchair accessible rooms; however, all rooms are assigned during the room selection process. Once the assignments are made, students are not then reassigned or denied housing to accommodate a late request. To avoid this situation, it is imperative that you contact University Housing and McBurney as soon as you believe you will need a housing accommodation.
Remember, housing assignments will be based on disability-related needs, not requests to live in a specific residence hall. Not all residence halls are able to accommodate students in the same way. If a student’s top choices for residence halls are already filled or are unable to meet the student’s disability-related needs, the student will be assigned to another residence hall. For instance, if a student with a mobility disorder is requesting a specific centrally located dorm due to mobility concerns and that dorm is either full or is not equipped with other accessible amenities, the student may be placed in another centrally located dorm that can accommodate their needs.
Requests for Air Conditioning as a Disability-Related Accommodations
University Housing will install air conditioner window units for students who require air conditioning for disability-related reasons and who are not assigned to a room with central air.
- There are seven University Residence Halls that have central air: Chadbourne, Dejope, Merit, Leopold, Ogg, Phillips, and Smith. You may consider putting these halls high on your list when submitting your residence hall preferences if you require air conditioning for disability-related reasons.
Students with a medical need that is not a disability should work directly with University Housing if living in a residence hall without central air or air conditioning.
- Instructions for requesting air conditioners are located on University Housing’s website. The Air Conditioner Agreement Form (must be signed by your doctor) should only be completed AFTER you have received your housing placement, as it only needs to be completed if you are living in a residence hall without central air.
Special Dietary Requirements
If you are concerned about your diet or nutrition, University Housing has registered dietitians on staff that would be available to speak to you. Any questions or comments may be emailed to dining services.
Eligibility to have an assistance animal accompany a student in University Housing is determined by the McBurney Disability Resource Center.
For further information regarding University Housing and disability-related accommodation requests, please visit University Housing’s “Accommodation Requests” page .
Private (“Off-Campus”) Housing and Accommodations
The resources listed below are for students who will not be living in UW-Madison Housing. Please note that housing options listed as “private residence halls” are not owned by UW-Madison.
Students who need disability-related housing accommodations are encouraged to visit rental units before signing a lease to ensure their individual accessibility needs can be met.
Private Housing Listings
- Campus Area Housing Listing Service – Listing provided through UW-Madison’s Visitor and Information Programs. The free interactive search tool has a checkbox for “Disability Access” if you click on the “All Filters” button on the main search page.
- Tenant Resource Center’s Housing Vacancy List – Tenant Resource Center UW-Madison office
- MadisonRent.com – Go to “Advanced Search”, click on “View all amenities”, and select “Handicap Accessible”.
- Madison.com Rentals
Accessible Housing Resource
Access to Independence is Madison’s Independent Living Center. They provide many services including housing information. They have handouts with tips on locating accessible housing in the Madison area. They are happy to answer students’ specific questions and assist with the accessible housing search. They often get notices from local housing providers advertising accessible units. Ask to speak with one of their Independent Living Specialists.