Office hours: 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., M-F

Welcome to the Accessibility Resource Center at MWSU.

We are glad you have chosen MWSU to continue your education. The department has a long tradition of making sure students with disabilities have equal access to the same academic and co-curricular opportunities readily available to their peers. In 2019, the department is celebrating 30 years of removing barriers and making our University increasingly accessible and inclusive for students with disabilities.

The primary function of the Accessibility Resource Center is to create an inclusive and barrier-free environment where students with disabilities have an extraordinarily similar experience to their peers. We accomplish this by working with other University departments to remove barriers whenever possible through the modification of physical structures, policies and procedures. On occasion, there may be a need to remove a barrier through the process of accommodation. That accommodation process is outlined below.

Okay, timeout. What do you mean when you say, “barrier”? In this context, a barrier is anything that prevents a student with a disability from being able to fully participate in the academic and co-curricular (outside the classroom) programs and services offered at MWSU. As an example, our instructors do not use sign language when they teach. This creates a barrier to full participation by a deaf student. We remove this barrier by placing a sign language interpreter in the classroom. The instructor and other students can now communicate with the deaf student and the barrier has been successfully removed.

Okay, so what is an “accommodation”? In this context, an accommodation is something we put in place in order to remove a barrier. Think of a barrier as a flat tire and an accommodation as the process we use to repair the tire. Does an accommodation provide an unfair advantage for students with disabilities? Never. Does an accommodation make classes easier for students with disabilities? Nope. Will a student with a disability have to work just as hard as their peers to be successful? Probably harder. Is there any guarantee that a student with a disability will be successful? Nah. We only guarantee that students with disabilities will have equal access to the same opportunities as their peers to succeed or fail. BUT WE REALLY HOPE YOU SUCCEED.

Why do you call it the Accessibility Resource Center? The primary purpose of the department is to provide information and resources for University personnel in order to remove barriers that have the effect of limiting participation by students with disabilities. We spend 5% of our time thinking about a student’s diagnosis and 95% of our time thinking about how to minimize the impact of the University on that student with that diagnosis.

Okay, thanks for clarifying. You’re welcome.

The Accommodation Process
Students with disabilities who encountered barriers to equal access and inclusion while attending high school may encounter similar barriers in the college environment as well. If you are a student with a disability who is anticipating barriers to full participation while attending MWSU, you are encouraged to contact the Accessibility Resource Center.

During a student’s initial visit with our staff, we will explore the types of barriers the student encountered in high school and may continue to encounter while attending MWSU. Then, we will determine how the University will remove those barriers through the accommodation process outlined below.

Academic Accommodations
If it is determined that a student will likely encounter barriers within the classroom, the student will be provided with an accommodation letter outlining the accommodations their instructors will need to put in place to remove those barriers. Students have full autonomy and responsibility for sharing a copy of their accommodation letter with their instructors. Please keep in mind, however, there is no requirement for instructors to remove a barrier until you have provided them with a copy of your accommodation letter.

How will a student know what they are going to need? Every instructor and every classroom environment is different. Barriers may be present in some classes but not others. Accommodations may be needed in some classes but not all classes. In some classes, access and inclusion may already be designed into teaching and testing practices. Usually, after reading through the course syllabi for the semester and attending a couple of sessions of each class, a student will know whether the class is going to work for them as is or if something about the class is going to limit their participation. It is not unusual for a student to return to the ARC to update their accommodation letter after they attended a few sessions of each of their classes.

Super Important Stuff – Your instructors will not know that accommodations are needed in their classroom unless you provide them with a copy of your accommodation letter from the ARC.

Pro Tip – Setting up an appointment with each of your instructors during the first week of each new semester to talk about the information in your accommodation letter is a really great idea.

More Super Important Stuff – The Accessibility Resource Center takes confidentiality very seriously and only shares information regarding a student’s diagnosis with relevant faculty, staff and administration when it is absolutely necessary to do so. No information regarding a student’s enrollment status, disability disclosure or accommodations will be shared with parents or guardians unless the student has waived their right to privacy by signing a FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) release form in the office of Admissions.

More often than not, a student can establish the need for accommodations without any supporting documentation. Best practices established by AHEAD (the Association on Higher Education and Disability) in 2012, allow the disability services professional to utilize their expertise and experience to make reasonable judgments about reasonable accommodations – keeping in mind that the sole purpose of an accommodation is to remove a barrier that is preventing equal access to equal opportunities. Accommodations that would fundamentally change the nature of a program or would result in an undue financial or administrative burden to the University would be considered unreasonable. If our Coordinator determines that documentation is necessary, the student will be notified as to the specific information that is needed. Please do not automatically submit an IEP or 504 Plan as these documents are rarely needed.

Super Important Stuff – It is important to note that other colleges and universities may require more extensive external documentation of disability. Testing agencies, such as those that administer standardized tests such as the GRE and LSAT, often have more rigid documentation guidelines. So, keep your IEP, 504 and other documentation on file at home because you may need it at some point.

Housing Accommodations
Housing and Residential Life has their own process for requesting accommodations. The request form is available on the web at

In addition to creating those handy, dandy accommodation letters, we also point students in the right direction by connecting them to other professionals on campus and within the community. The following is a list of the most frequently requested resources:

Where is my first stop when thinking about enrolling at MWSU?
Eder Hall, 101
phone (816) 271-4266

Where do I buy my books?
Barnes and Noble Bookstore
Blum Union
phone (816) 271-4456

Where do I pay my bills?
Business Office
Eder Hall, 104
phone (816) 271-4324

Where do I find a tutor?
Center for Academic Support
Hearnes Learning Resource Center, 213
phone (816) 271-4524

Where do I get my coffee fix?
There are coffee shops located in: Hearnes, Blum, Popplewell and Remington.

Where do I go when life gets to be a little much?
Counseling Center
Eder Hall, 203
phone (816) 271-4327

Where do I apply for scholarships, loans, etc.?
Financial Aid
Eder Hall, 103
phone (816) 271-4361

Where do I go when I am not feeling so great?
Health Center
Blum Union, 203
phone (816) 271-4495

Where will I live on campus?
Housing and Residential Life
Commons 106
phone (816) 383-7100

Where do I find a job?
Career Center/Student Employment
Blum Union, 210
phone (816) 271-4204

Where do I go to sign up for classes?
Student Success and Academic Advising Center
Eder Hall, 209
phone (816) 271-5990

Is there an independent living center in St. Joseph?
MERIL (Midland Empire Resources for Independent Living)
phone (816) 387-2280

Is financial aid available specifically for students with disabilities?
Missouri Vocational Rehabilitation
phone (816) 387-2280

As you can see, there is a BUNCH of support available to students attending MWSU. While a student’s success is determined by a multitude of factors, we do everything we can to make sure students with disabilities have equal access to the same opportunities available to their peers.

Please do not hesitate to contact the department if you have any questions.

My best in your academic pursuits and beyond,

Mike Ritter, Accessibility Resource Coordinator
(816) 271-4330

Griffon Testing Center
Missouri Western State University
Campus Location – Eder 208

The purpose of the Griffon Testing Center (GTC) is to remove barriers from the testing process. Whenever possible, students with disabilities are encouraged to take their quizzes and exams in the classroom so they have access to their instructor. Teachers will often provide clarification about a test question and students taking their exam in the GTC may miss out on that clarification. However, when an exam does not allow sufficient time for completion; when an exam is unavailable in an accessible format; when a classroom environment is particularly distracting; when adaptive computer software is unavailable in the classroom, students are more than welcome to take their exams in the GTC. Students will need to first contact the Accessibility Resource Coordinator for additional information.

Adaptive Technology
Missouri Western State University
Campus Location – Hearnes Learning Center
Email –
Phone – (816) 271-4295

The primary function of Adaptive Technology is to convert inaccessible course materials into an accessible format. We have the capability of providing textbooks in audible or Braille format, for example. We can also train students how to use adaptive computer hardware and software such as JAWS, Kurzweil, Read and Write, etc. For more information, contact the Adaptive Technology Specialist, Michelle Traster.

Missouri Western State University
Accessible Parking

There are accessible parking spaces available for persons with disabilities in the following locations:

Eder Hall – Located on the south side of the building.

Murphy Hall – Located on the south side of Eder Hall.

Hearnes Center – Located on the west side of the building.

Spratt Hall – Located on the east side of the building.

Fulkerson Center – Located on the east side of the building.

Blum Union – Located on the north and south sides of the building.

Remington Hall — Located on the north side of the building.

Agenstein Hall – Located on the north side of the building.

Wilson Hall – Located on the east side of the building.

Looney Complex – Located on the east and west sides of the building.

Potter Hall – Located on the north side of the building.

Popplewell Hall – Located on the south side of the building.

Griffon Hall – Located on the east side of the building.

Scanlon Hall – Located on the east side of the building.

Vaselakos Hall – Located on the west side of the building.

Leaverton Hall – Located on the west side of the building.

Judah Hall – Located on the east side of the building.

Commons – Located on the west side of Leaverton Hall.

Beshears Hall – Located on the west side of Leaverton Hall.

Baker Family Fitness Center – Located on the south side of the building.

Griffon Indoor Sports Complex – Located on the east side of the building.

Spratt Memorial Stadium Complex – Located on the south side of the stadium.

Griffon Spring Sports Complex – Located on the north side of the complex.

Missouri Department of Conservation Regional Office Building – Located on the west side of the building.

If you do not currently have disabled license plates or placards issued for your vehicle, you will need to complete Forms 1776 and 2769 and submit them to any driver license and vehicle registration office in the state of Missouri. The license office in St. Joseph is located at 1301 Village Drive.

Mike Ritter
Mike RitterAccessibility Resource Coordinator
Student Advocacy Form