Attendance & Deadlines
Some students with disabilities have exacerbations of symptoms which are intermittent and/or unpredictable in nature, and unfortunately, may impact attendance and timely work completion even despite proper time management and prior planning. Federal law requires colleges and universities to consider reasonable modification of policies if needed to accommodate a student’s disability. When appropriate based on our review of a student’s medical documentation and knowledge of the impact of a student’s disability, the Disability Resource Center may approve a student who is impacted in this way with an accommodation for reasonable flexibility with attendance and deadlines for these types of disability-related issues.
Please note that this accommodation is specifically designed to build in a reasonable amount of flexibility around attendance and deadlines in order to specifically address the impact of a brief, periodic disability-related experience that interferes with course activities. The accommodation is not intended to provide a substantial number of missed classes, regular or lengthy assignment extensions, or regular or lengthy delays in taking an exam for reasons beyond brief, periodic flare-ups. Additional accommodations and options may need to be considered on a case-by-case basis in these extenuating, lengthy situations.
Students who will need the accommodation of reasonable flexibility with attendance/deadlines are advised to complete the Flexible Attendance/Deadline Accommodation form and share it with their instructors as part of the interactive process. If a student needs support in completing this form or providing the information to their instructor, they may reach out to their DRC Coordinator.
This accommodation provides flexibility only for disability-related absences or extensions, not all situations for which a student may miss class or request an extension. As occasions arise where a student needs to use this accommodation, they will need to communicate with their instructors in a timely fashion to make the instructor aware of their disability-related need for flexibility. When contacting an instructor about missing class or needing an extension, students should be sure to clearly communicate their need to use their flexibility accommodation. It is not necessary that students provide a doctor’s note or specifics about their exacerbated disability symptoms, but it is important that faculty recognize whether a particular missed class or requested extension is disability-related or not.
This accommodation can look different in each course, and is not intended to fundamentally alter the curriculum. Instructors are advised to engage with their department chair as they analyze the centrality of attendance to their course and the amount of flexibility that can be provided.
The Office for Civil Rights has provided the following guidance questions to be used when determining if attendance is an essential part of a class:
- Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among students?
- Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning?
- To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
- What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance and are they noted in the course syllabus?
- Is the attendance policy equally applied? (For example, how might the absence be addressed if it fell under the University’s classroom attendance policy as an excused absence for a university-sanctioned event or activity?)
While students are expected to make contact with their instructor when this accommodation is needed, it is not expected that students will provide a doctor’s note regarding each absence or extension, as the student will have already documented the condition’s impact with the Disability Resource Center.
Accommodations are not required to be implemented retroactively. If a student presents their faculty with an accommodation letter indicating the need for this accommodation after they have already experienced absences or missed deadlines, it is permissible to provide flexibility for those situations, but not required.
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