Disability-Related Attendance Issues

In most cases, class attendance is critical to a student’s mastery of the knowledge and/or skills that are taught in a specific course. Students are typically expected to follow the attendance policy established by the instructor in each class; however, the University recognizes that there may be times when a student with a disability cannot attend class because of disability related reasons.

  1. Butler University makes every effort to reasonably accommodate a student’s disability related needs. A reasonable accommodation does not fundamentally alter the nature of the academic course; academic requirements are not generally waived, and students are typically required to fulfill all course requirements.
  2. If a student believes it is not possible to abide by the attendance policy because of a diagnosed disability, the student should contact Student Disability Services (SDS) at the start of the semester or as soon as possible after the need for the exception to the policy arises. As with all possible accommodations, students will need to submit completed documentation of the disability from an appropriate clinician. For additional information regarding documentation guidelines, contact SDS in Jordan Hall 136 or refer to butler.edu/disability. A student whose disability related symptoms start to impact class attendance is advised to stay in close communication with SDS to help ensure they receive any necessary support and to also help ensure their individual circumstances can be reviewed and appropriately addressed. Professors are also encouraged to contact SDS with any attendance related concerns.
  3. As with all disability related accommodations, the attendance accommodation will be determined on an individual, case-by-case basis depending on:
      • the extent to which the submitted documentation supports the need for an attendance accommodation, and
      • the individual requirements, fundamental nature, and essential elements associated with each specific course; discussion between SDS and the course instructor is typically required to determine to what extent the attendance accommodation needs to be applied.
  1. Again, it is critical for SDS and faculty members to communicate regarding essential or fundamental academic course requirements as they relate to a student with a disability. If a concern arises regarding the number of absences in the course, SDS will aid in determining appropriate and reasonable outcomes. Faculty are strongly encouraged to contact SDS to discuss these concerns. Students are required to fulfill all course requirements and will be held to the same evaluation standards as specified in the course syllabus. It is recommended to state the course’s specific attendance requirements on the course syllabus prior to the start of the course so students are aware of the course requirements well before the drop deadline. Since course attendance policies may not be rigidly applied for students with an attendance accommodation, the following questions need to be considered to equitably assess this student’s attendance. SDS can assist in determining the answers to the following questions:
      • Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves?
      • 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 of learning?
      • To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
      • What does the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?
      • By what method is the final grade calculated?
  1. An attendance accommodation does not mean that unlimited absences are permitted. The attendance accommodation is in place only for those absences related to the student’s disability and to the point at which absences do not represent a fundamental alteration of the course. The number of absences a student may take as a reasonable accommodation will be determined on a case-by-case basis through conversation between SDS and each course instructor, depending on the student’s individual disability, the nature of the course, and the degree to which class attendance is an essential requirement of the specific course.
  2. Students who are approved for an attendance accommodation are advised to contact instructors as soon as they are able regarding their disability related absence and related make-up work. Given the chronic nature of many conditions, it is not generally necessary or appropriate for the student to visit a clinician or receive a doctor’s note in order to substantiate each absence. SDS is available to assist faculty in the event a student misses an exam due to a disability related absence. In the event that a student is approved for an attendance accommodation mid-semester, it is important to be aware that accommodations are not retro-active. If a student with a new attendance accommodation has already missed a considerable amount of class, faculty are encouraged to connect with SDS to determine what is reasonable.
  3. In spite of accommodation, students should be aware that absences may still have a negative impact on their academic performance due to missing content and experiential learning while in the classroom. For this reason, students should make every attempt to attend class and to observe deadlines for submission of assignments. Additionally, students are still responsible for completing all assignments and communicating directly with faculty about absences.

Please contact SDS in Jordan Hall 136 with questions or concerns.