Instructor Guide to Student Accommodations


In your courses, you will work with students who encounter disability-related barriers in university environments. In order to give everyone an equal chance to learn well, UW–Madison provides accommodations for students with disabilities. Accommodations are approved for individual students based on their particular circumstances/needs and barriers at a given time.

The overall goal of providing accommodations is access – access that is inclusive and respectful of learners’ identities. Disabled students deserve to have access to course materials, classrooms, lectures, and in-class discussion with classmates in a timely and effective way, so that they have an equal chance to learn and be successful in your course.

An important distinction: Accommodations do not ensure success in your class – they are not shortcuts or lowering the standards of the course. Accommodations provide equal opportunities to pursue learning.

This guide will help you learn about supporting students with disabilities, as well as discover strategies for working collaboratively with your students and the McBurney Center to provide a high-quality learning experience for everyone.

How to navigate this guide

Feel free to start with the topic that’s most relevant to you or to review all four topics for a thorough overview. Reading time for each topic is estimated to be 5-15 minutes, with an additional 5 minutes for Review & Apply activities.

If you have questions or are having trouble finding the information you need, please contact us.

Thank you for partnering with the McBurney Center to ensure access so students with disabilities can realize their full potential.


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1. Disability, Accommodations & Your Role

You will learn what constitutes a disability, the purpose of educational accommodations, your responsibilities as an instructor, and about working with students with disabilities.

Read “Disability, Accommodations & Your Role”

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2. Pre-Semester Planning

You will learn how to plan for accommodations before the semester starts, allowing you to be more prepared, efficient, and effective.

Read “Pre-Semester Planning”

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3. Tips for Providing Accommodations

You will learn steps you can take throughout your course to promote accessibility and ensure effective communication with students.

Read “Tips for Providing Accommodations”

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4. Consulting with the McBurney Center

You will learn about situations in which it’s especially important to connect with McBurney Center staff before taking action.

Read “Consulting with the McBurney Center”

Want to learn more?

Explore the McBurney Center’s Instructor FAQs

Related Policy

Explore other campus resources

UW–Madison has many ways that you can learn more about accessible, inclusive instruction and best practices for teaching diverse students – professional development workshops, self-directed online resources, communities of practices, and one-to-one consultations.

  • The Center for User Experience helps you to create more accessible, usable, and inclusive digital spaces for all students, instructors, and staff. Review their guides and online trainings, especially their “Make It Accessible” guide.
  • Many schools, colleges, and departments have their own designated instructional experts/consultants. Please reach out to leadership in your department or the Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring to help identify these individuals and for resources about inclusive teaching.
  • The Center for Teaching, Learning & Mentoring (CTLM) can help you to:
    • Design course materials and interactions according to the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
    • Strengthen your skills in inclusive instruction and assessment
    • Explore active-learning techniques and spaces on campus
    • Create inclusive media to support your instruction

Thank you!

Thank you for learning about disability-related accommodations and accessibility.

We hope that you have learned a few practical ideas and that you will carry these principles into your teaching. The McBurney Center staff are here to help whenever you have questions or want to learn more about supporting your learners toward their educational goals.