Disability Services Center

Guide for Reasonable Adjustment to Attendance Policy

Guide for Reasonable Adjustment to Attendance Policy

Decisions regarding attendance accommodations are best handled through an interactive process including Faculty, the Disability Services Center (DSC) and the Student.  An adjustment of the attendance policy does not mean a relaxation of course requirements.  Students will be responsible for fulfilling all course requirements and evaluation standards for a given course.

Step 1

A determination is made by the Disability Services Center that a reasonable adjustment of an attendance policy is required and necessary for equal access under the law.  A letter of accommodation is written and the student provides this letter to the instructor.  The student is provided a copy of these procedures. 

Step 2

In order to determine the reasonableness of an accommodation regarding the adjustment of an attendance policy, the faculty and the DSC counselor should engage in a discussion to what extent class attendance may be an essential feature of a given course.  The following set of questions from the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) offer guidance to be used in considering whether attendance is an essential element of a course:

a. Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves as an ongoing feature of the class?

b. Do students contributions in class constitute a significant component of the learning process?

c. Does the course rely upon student participation in discussion or related activities as an essential method for learning?

d. To what extent does a student’s absence from the class constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?

e. What do the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?

f. Is attendance an essential factor by which the final course grade is calculated?

Faculty should also consider their general practices with regards to exceptions made to students.  It is important that students with disabilities are not held to a different attendance standard than students for whom you may apply attendance modification.  For example, what is the general practice when a student is ill or has extenuating life circumstances such as a death in the family?  What is the general practice when a student is an athlete and you are asked to consider this as part of the attendance grade? 

Step 3

If following discussion and analysis with the DSC, an adjustment of attendance policy is determined to be a reasonable accommodation, the next step is a communication strategy for disability-related absences.  Students should contact instructors in advance of anticipated absences.  In the case of emergency or unexpected absences, students should contact their instructors as soon as possible to arrange for any approved make-up work.  A reminder, faculty member should not request specific medical documentation or descriptions of disability from the student. 

Students should make every effort to maintain regular attendance and particular effort should be made to attend class for scheduled tests.  Adjustment of attendance policy will not necessarily extend to deadlines for the submission of assignments or projects.

If following discussion and analysis with the DSC, an adjustment of attendance policy is determined to be an unreasonable accommodation, the DSC counselor will communicate this information to the student and will be available for further consultation. 

If you have questions or require additional information concerning this guide, please contact the Disability Services Center at 207-780-4706.