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702 W. Johnson Street, Suite 2104
Madison, WI 53715-1007

Main Office Numbers: 608-263-2741(voice)
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McBurney Disability Resource Center

A Student Guide to Accessibility and Wintry Weather

The geography of the UW Madison includes 935 rolling acres running from Library Mall to the east to the UW Hospital complex located on the western edge of campus. Lake Mendota forms the northern boundary with Regent Street to the south. Altogether, the campus is both long and wide and includes paved paths, lakeshore trails and many roads and sidewalks connecting buildings to parking lots to bus routes.

During the winter months, snow and ice can make getting around campus challenging for everyone but particularly so for individuals with mobility or visual disabilities. This guide has been created to assist you in planning your winter travels with suggestions and resources to assist in safely navigating campus in winter.


  1. Develop your class schedule with winter in mind. Allow sufficient time between classes to use the campus bus to get to classes that are far apart. When possible, select classes held in buildings that are close to each other to minimize travel time.
  2. Locate building assignments and imagine the path of travel with 6-10 inches of snow and ice on it. What may be navigable in dry weather may not be navigable in snowy conditions. Look for alternate routes and estimate the time of travel from one location to another. Factor that into your class schedule. Use the campus map to help you plan.
  3. Consider the location of bus stops, parking lots and other important campus locations that impact your path of travel.
  4. Talk with your advisor about classes that have a strict attendance requirement (e.g., lab, foreign language, etc.) and take those requirements into consideration when choosing classes for spring semester. Expect that there will be days when you will be unable to get to class or are late to due to weather. While faculty will generally be sympathetic to absences that are beyond your control, some classes simply can not be missed more than a few times, if at all. Your advisor may be able to help you develop a class plan that schedules enrollment in these classes in the summer or fall as a simple solution to this unpredictable dilemma.
  5. Submit your schedule to your accommodation specialist at the McBurney Center as soon as you register. We can work with departments to relocate classes to improve access for students with disabilities.


  1. Make your own personal safety your first priority. If it would be dangerous for you to attempt to come to campus, donít come. Contact your faculty via email or phone.
  2. Talk with your faculty during the first week of class about the potential to miss or be late to a class and see what options you have to get notes or otherwise make up the absence. Develop a plan during that first week rather than waiting for the blizzard to hit and have to plan reactively.
  3. Call in your class route to the UW Facilities Access Specialist (608/263-3021) or the Central Answering and Response Service (CARS - 608/263-3333). The Physical Plant is responsible for clearing snow and ice from campus pathways. They will include the path of travel for campus individuals with disabilities as part of their route priorities. Provide sufficient information about your access needs so crews can provide reasonable access (e.g., wheelchair width, handrail use, parking location, etc.).
  4. Consider a phone appointment with your accommodation specialist if you are uncertain about coming to a meeting at the McBurney Center. This is an option for all students when weather is a factor in travel to campus. If you choose to meet at McBurney, call our office early that morning so McBurney staff can request prioritization of snow removal on sidewalks near McBurney. These sidewalks are not cleared by CARS.
  5. Check the campus website and local news and weather sources regularly for weather updates and forecasts. The UW Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Studies website provides text and radar information about current weather conditions and local and regional forecasts.

While many of the sidewalks and roadways are the responsibility of UW to maintain, many are also the property of the city of Madison. For information about how to report problem areas in the City of Madison, see the City of Madison's Accessibility in Winter web page.

Helpful Websites

For Up-to-Date Weather Information

File last updated: February 04, 2015. 11:53:05 am
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