Disability Services Disability Related Course Modifications
A Guide for Implementation from the Office of Disability Services (ODS)
What does 'Flexibility Regarding Attendance and Assignment Due Dates' mean?
Disability Related Attendance/Assignment Accommodations
We have learned that faculty and students would like more guidance regarding the accommodation(s) “flexibility regarding attendance” and/or “occasional grace period for written assignments”. This information is designed to help faculty in assessing how to implement these accommodations within their courses. This guide is also intended to assist students in discussing these accommodations with faculty. In this guide, we outline factors for faculty to consider, the process, responsibilities, some common scenarios and provide the Disability Related Attendance/Assignment Accommodation Agreements. After reading this, please meet with the student to go over your agreed upon modifications.
As you undergo this process, please keep in mind these accommodations are not intended to create a fundamental alteration of your course or change any learning outcomes. However, we appreciate your thoughtfulness in creating an agreement that allows the student equal access to your course while also maintaining the standards of your course.
When is flexibility appropriate? Some factors for faculty to consider:
Generally, students are expected to follow classroom attendance policies and turn in assignments on the specified due date. However, some disabilities are episodic in nature, resulting in an unexpected “flare-up”, and as a result a student may have to miss class or a due date directly related to this condition.
Consider the following when determining whether attendance/due date extension is an essential function of a course:
- Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among students?
- Do student contributions in class 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 do the course description and syllabus state?
- How is the final grade determined?
- What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance and due dates?
What is the process?
- The Office of Disability Services (ODS) determines by a thorough process that these accommodations are reasonable and may be needed for a student to have equal access to the course. We explain to students that this does not mean that they can miss unlimited classes or regularly turn in late assignments. Additionally, we explain the student is responsible for completing all coursework. Finally, we do not expect students to negotiate accommodations; we do expect any specific details regarding an accommodation that may alter the fundamental requirements of a class to be discussed with the professor in advance.
- This accommodation should be provided after a discussion between the instructor and the student. Some students register late in the semester and some wait to give instructors accommodation letters. In these cases, instructors are not expected to provide any retroactive accommodations. However, it may still be helpful to have this information, even at a later point in the semester.
- The instructor can assess the impact of attendance and extended due dates on class and determine what accommodations can be made. There are some classes in which these accommodations are not reasonable due to the nature of the course. These tend to be classes when student learning is being assessed in the classroom/lab, and/or group work is essential to the learning outcomes. The instructor and student complete the Agreement Form (Absence and/or Attendance) to address these aspects of the course, including how attendance can be accommodated or the student misses homework and exams due to disability.
- ODS is available to provide support for faculty and students regarding this accommodation. Feel free to contact us at any point in the process.
- After discussion with instructor, the student will complete and submit the agreement form listing the details of the modifications/parameters. Instructors will receive a copy of these agreements. Please notify ODS if there are questions or concerns.
- Initiate a conversation early with your instructor by appointment, during professor office hours or via email to understand the nature of a course. Understand that not all classes/labs can offer flexible attendance or extended due dates. A conversation must occur between you and your professor resulting in a completed form and signed by student and professor.
- Students are responsible to complete all coursework. When a class or assignment is missed due to your disability, notify your professor immediately. The accommodation of flexibility regarding attendance or assignments does not mean that you will automatically get an extension for work that is due on a day that you are absent. Make every attempt to turn your work in via email or other means. If you will not be able to turn in a homework assignment or miss a quiz or exam, it will be your responsibility to contact your professor per the process determined on your agreement form.
- Retain a copy of this agreement for your records.
- Notify ODS if absences or late assignments are becoming close to set parameters as stated in agreement form.
- Should additional documentation be needed by ODS, it will be requested from the student’s treating physician and will need to include the diagnosis, the reason for the absence(s), including corresponding date(s) for the absence(s) and a prognosis.
- Be available to discuss the accommodation with the student and discuss accommodation parameters.
- At no time is the student required to present the professor with medical documentation verifying his/her disability-related absence(s)/missed assignment(s).
- Determine how essential attendance and specific assignment deadlines are to your course. If you determine, through a deliberative consideration (using the bullet points listed above), that attendance is an essential requirement, this accommodation may not be applicable. If so, first clearly explain these reasons to ODS and then the student. Please include essential requirements or limitations on the agreement form as well.
- Be very clear in your expectations when you meet with the student. Feel free to contact ODS for assistance with this discussion.
- Respect confidentiality, please do not ask student to disclose a disability. Although the student may share this as an individual decision, it is important that we respect confidentiality.
- Fill out the agreement form with the student. When completed, please sign and make copies. Please keep a copy for your records. A copy will also be retained in our system.
- Notify ODS if absences or late assignments are becoming close to set parameters as stated in agreement.
Disability Services (ODS) Responsibilities:
- Approve this accommodation when appropriate due to a documented disability.
- Provide student with accommodation letters, guidelines and information about his or her responsibilities.
- Request additional documentation if needed.
- Assist faculty in determining how to implement this accommodation in the course.
- Provide support to student and faculty when questions or difficulties arise due to this accommodation.
1. Instructor allows 3 absences and then students’ grades drop by a letter grade. A student with flexibility regarding attendance may be allowed 6 absences and 24 hours to make up any work missed.
2. In a foreign language course, a student is told at the start of the semester that the professor cannot allow much flexibility regarding attendance as much learning depends on classroom interactions. However, the professor will keep the student’s accommodation in mind. Student is hospitalized for a week at the end of the semester and cannot complete a presentation. Professor allows the student to make the presentation up with only the professor, as this does not essentially alter the course objectives.
3. Professor gives I-clicker points for attendance. Professor allows student to respond to questions via email. However, student must contact professor and answer questions within 24 hours of class.
4. Student and professor agree that student can miss class more often than classmates as long as all of the work is completed. However, it is nearing the end of the semester and student has not turned in assignments, has not been in contact with the professor, and has not attended class. In this case, the professor would not be expected to extend deadlines as student has not taken responsibility for maintaining communication and is not completing coursework.
For more information and clarification, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Basic format partially used from: http://disabilitycenter.missouri.edu/guides/files/Flexibility-Regarding-Attendance-Guide-June2014.pdf