In most cases, class attendance is critical to a student’s mastery of the knowledge and skills taught in a course. University syllabus policy requires that attendance requirements be addressed in all class syllabi, and students are expected to abide by those policies. However, if disabled students believe they may not be able to follow an attendance policy for disability-related reasons, they are entitled to ask for accommodation. Accommodations in attendance requirements are most often sought by students who have episodic or intermittent symptoms due to disability or medications.
Before requesting an accommodation for the attendance requirements of a particular course, students are advised to attend class, review the syllabus and consider how the attendance policy may impact them. If flexibility is built into the policy, they may not need to request accommodation. However, if there is a strict limit to the number of absences that are permitted, they may request an accommodation.
Attendance accommodations are determined on an individual, case-by-case basis. In considering whether an accommodation is reasonable, the DRC will work closely with you, as the course instructor, to understand how attendance is related to learning in the course. We will we will want to explore:
- How much interaction is there between you and students and among students during class?
- Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
- Does the design of the course rely on student participation as a significant method for learning?
- To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class compromise the educational experience of other students in the class?
- Is the attendance policy applied consistently? Are there exceptions to the policy made for extenuating circumstances other than disability?
- What do the course description and syllabus say about attendance? What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?
- How is the final grade calculated?
An accommodation in attendance is not reasonable if regular attendance is essential to the course and/or curriculum or if the number of accommodated absences becomes excessive. You are not required to waive essential academic requirements. Students who have attendance accommodations are responsible for all course work and do not have permission to miss class whenever they choose. Requests for flexibility in assignment deadlines should be discussed separately from conversations about attendance.
If an accommodation is determined to be reasonable, you be asked to work with DRC and the student to plan:
- How and when the student should inform you when he or she will miss class
- How the student will make-up missed work
- What number of absences would be reasonable
- Whether a late drop or grade of incomplete would be reasonable if absences become excessive unexpectedly
If you have questions or concerns, please contact Disability Resources.