McBurney Connect streamlines disability-related accommodation requests

(Photo by Jeff Miller/UW-Madison)

Changes intended to streamline how UW-Madison processes students’ disability-related accommodation requests are now in effect. Paper VISAs (Verified Individualized Services and Accommodation plans) have been replaced by Faculty Notification Letters. The McBurney Disability Resource Center’s new electronic accommodation and case management system, called McBurney Connect, generates a Faculty Notification Letter for each class section in which students are requesting accommodations. Letters are emailed to course instructors of record to facilitate communication.

In addition to receiving emailed notification letters, an exciting feature of McBurney Connect is the online instructor portal. By using their NetID and password, instructors are able to log in to McBurney Connect to see a list of students who have requested accommodations in each of their courses. The instructor portal will also serve as a central location to view Faculty Notification Letters. McBurney Connect emails can be used to alert faculty to new requests in their portals as the semester progresses.

As a result of this new system, instructors will now receive customized information about classroom accommodations that are specific to each course section, as students will select just those accommodations that are needed for each. Mari Magler, assistant dean and director of the McBurney Center, explains, “a student may request a notetaking accommodation for a lecture section of one course, but not for the discussion section. Or a particular accommodation for an English course, but not the same one for calculus.”

Students are still instructed to meet with faculty to discuss their accommodations. For example, students with exam related accommodations will need to discuss alternative exam times and locations for each exam.

Staff have received a variety of feedback from students stating they like the new system, especially the notetaking. They think it’s much easier to receive notes and they like generating the Faculty Notification Letter and having it sent right to the instructor. Two graduate students have also shared that they like the capability of choosing what accommodations they use for each class and do not have to share all of their accommodations with each instructor.

The mission of the McBurney Disability Resource Center is to lead the campus community Forward in Access for students with disabilities. The Center’s new electronic accommodation and case management system helps achieve this goal.

“It’s important for all students to feel like they are a part of the community and this is one way we can improve the process for students with disabilities to access their coursework on campus,” Magler concludes.


The overall accommodation process remains substantially the same. What is changing is how instructors receive the written accommodation plan from students.

  1. Students approved for disability-related accommodations are entered into McBurney Connect based on individualized review and eligibility process.
  2. Students log in to McBurney Connect to select their accommodations and schedule Faculty Notification Letters specific to each class.
  3. McBurney Connect will email Faculty Notification Letters to instructors two weeks before classes start, and then on an ongoing basis after that.
  4. Students are still expected to meet with instructors in a timely manner, even though their accommodation plans are delivered via email.
  5. Instructors can log into McBurney Connect to see a list of students who have requested accommodations for each of their courses, including their Faculty Notification Letters

Instructors can check out a Frequently Asked Questions page on the McBurney Center’s website or contact the Center for more information.