Flexibility with Attendance

As part of the process for determining eligibility, DAS will verify that the student's disability may cause the student to miss classes, based on documentation provided by the student from a qualified professional.

A student with a disability who is registered with DAS will have an accommodation notification letter indicating what accommodations are appropriate. If it says to allow occasional exceptions to the absentee/tardiness policy, then this is an appropriate accommodation for the student. The student and faculty member need to complete and sign the flexibility with attendance agreement form at the beginning of the semester.

Students who present DAS documentation after absences occur are only eligible for making up the work at the discretion of the faculty member. Accommodations approved by DAS cannot be applied retroactively.


When a disability-related absence occurs, the following procedures should be followed:

  • The student should notify professors and DAS within 48 hours of absence.
  • When the accommodation is questioned, the professor, student, and DAS staff member should discuss whether the disability-related absence accommodation is reasonable. DAS may request documentation of the disability-related absence from a qualified professional.
  • In cases where absences will affect the ability of the student to demonstrate skills required to successfully pass the course, the student may want to consult with the instructor about whether to consider withdrawing from the course.

In determining whether to accommodate a particular absence, the decision should be based on the following considerations:

  • Is the absence truly related to the disability? Routine medical appointments, transportation difficulties, work-related activities, etc., are not reasons to warrant the disability-related absence accommodation because they are not disability-related.
  • Will the absences cause the student to miss essential components of the class? (for example, missing group work in an oral communication class)
  • Can the activities missed by the student be made up? (For example, making up a missed nursing rotation may cause an administrative burden.)

Each faculty member makes the determination as to how many absences in general are acceptable in order to pass the class. Attendance will generally be an essential function and, where attendance is essential, the student can be treated the same as others -- even if the student needs additional absences for disability-related reasons. Questions to consider in determining an absence policy include:

  • What are the essential elements of the course?
  • How many absences would fundamentally alter the student's ability to experience, participate in, contribute to, and demonstrate learning from the class?
  • On a daily basis, do the students receive information they need in order to learn material presented on following days?
  • Does learning occur on a daily, or near daily, basis between student and student? Will the absence from class of any student dilute the academic impact on other students?
  • Do students prepare and/or participate in topical or other learning experiences every class period that are considered essential but which are not likely to be repeated AND for which they are responsible during exams?
  • Is there a statement on the syllabus indicating the impact on grading of additional absences?

Faculty members are encouraged to contact DAS to talk through general and specific questions related to attendance.