We—the UW-Madison Writing Center staff—are composed of Disabled and nondisabled career staff, graduate student leaders, and graduate writing instructors. We are committed to inclusivity, accessibility, disability justice, and cultivating a culture of access among our staff, students, and the greater University and Madison communities. This culture of access is tied to our antiracist and inclusivity efforts, as they cannot be separated. In this statement, we aim to provide specific information and action steps to demonstrate these commitments.
Our Commitment to Accessibility
We are committed to increasing disability representation and the accessibility of our services by taking on projects to further these goals. Some of these include:
- maintaining a committee with Disabled representation tasked with revising Writing Center policies and practices that may pose barriers to full participation,
- training our instructors in accessible tutoring practices,
- continuing to grow our long-held partnership with the McBurney Disability Resource Center, and
- developing more accessible working conditions for our instructors.
However, we acknowledge that the Writing Center has not always been an environment where attention to access has been foregrounded. From instructor training to the physical layout of our space, Disabled individuals have not always been intentionally included in our design and practice. While the Writing Center and all its affiliate programs and spaces are ADA compliant, we recognize that compliance is a starting point, and we have more work to do. To that end, we would like to acknowledge some aspects of our Writing Center that may pose barriers for some users, and which we are committed to attempting to remedy through ongoing conversation and collaboration with the University. These include:
- Some individuals may choose to wear facemasks, which inhibits lip reading in face-to-face interactions
- Fairly tight space for maneuvering wheelchairs
- No dedicated parking for Writing Center appointments at our physical locations
- ASL interpreting services need to be requested and coordinated in advance with campus partners
In alignment with our values, described in our Inclusivity Statement, the UW-Madison Writing Center is committed to centering accessibility and Disabled individuals by developing accessible practices and policies for our writers, our staff, and our Madison community. We do not tolerate ableism in our policies and pedagogies, and we continue our work in addressing and reducing ableist microaggressions.
Current Accessibility Features
We understand and use the terms “accessible” and “accessibility” to refer to policies and practices that intentionally seek to eliminate physical, sensory, affective, structural, and institutional barriers to full participation. Accessibility practices you can currently expect when using Writing Center services include:
- Instructors trained to offer many options for reading, writing, brainstorming, and revising texts to best meet your needs as a learner
- Options for both online (synchronous and asynchronous) and in-person sessions
- ADA compliant physical locations (at our Main Center in Helen C. White Hall as well as our satellite locations across campus)
- Option to work with the same instructor for recurring sessions
- Opportunities to work in reduced distraction environments
- Accessible digital copies of instructional materials
- Recently updated website with easier navigability and improved screen reader compatibility
- Welcoming environment and physical space for service animals during in-person appointments
Students are not required to be registered with the McBurney Disability Resource Center or to disclose their disability to utilize these accessibility features. Students are welcome to disclose any information about their disability, learning abilities, or session preferences in their appointment form or during the session.
While we strive to provide an accessible environment to all writers, we acknowledge that there are some barriers to participation that we have not anticipated or that we’ll need additional time or approval to address. As such, we do provide reasonable accommodations as part of our commitment towards nondiscrimination against disabled individuals. These accommodations, while requiring disabled individuals to request them, are provided to ensure that Disabled individuals are not excluded from full participation in our programs. Because we operate in an institution that must provide reasonable accommodations as affirmed under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and because the law is framed within the medical model of disability, our ability to implement accommodations on a broad scale is limited by resources, and our desired accessibility features are in turn impacted by funding. Due to these constraints, some requests may need to be recommended to the Writing Center as a reasonable accommodation. Students seeking a reasonable accommodation should work with the McBurney Disability Resource Center. Accommodation requests may include, but are not limited to:
- Print copies of instructional materials (including large-text copies)
- Sign language interpreting
- Captioning for meetings
- Additional appointment sessions and/or increased duration
To request an accommodation, please email Ellen Cecil-Lemkin (firstname.lastname@example.org) or email@example.com.