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Student Disability Services

Disability-Related Attendance Issues

  1. 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.
  2. Students are expected to follow the attendance policy established by the instructor in each class. However, the University recognizes that there may be times when a qualified student with a disability cannot attend class because of disability-related reasons.
  3. If such a student believes it may not be possible to abide by the attendance policy because of medical issues related to a 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, to discuss the matter of a possible accommodation. Determination of eligibility for a disability-related exception to the attendance policy is made through consultation with the instructor of the course and the staff of Student Disability Services. If necessary, the department chair or other appropriate administrator may also be included in the discussion. In every case, the proper relevant written documentation from an appropriate professional must be submitted to SDS before an accommodation request can be considered. For additional information regarding documentation guidelines, contact SDS in Jordan Hall, Room 136.
  4. Essential Course Requirements: While Butler University makes every effort to reasonably accommodate a student's disability related needs, academic requirements are not generally waived if doing so would fundamentally alter the essential nature of the academic course. Faculty members are responsible for identifying and defining essential or fundamental academic requirements for their courses and instructors may establish acceptable number of excused absences in light of these essential requirements. Attendance requirements for each course are generally stated on the course syllabus. The following questions need to be considered when determining the extent to which attendance is an essential requirement of a course and whether an exception to the attendance policy may be appropriate:

    As with all disability accommodations, exceptions to the attendance policy will be determined on an individual, case-by-case basis depending on:

    • a. Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves?
    • b. Do student contributions in class constitute a significant component of the learning process?
    • c. Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method of learning?
    • d. 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?
    • e. What does the course description and syllabus say regarding attendance?
    • f. By what method is the final grade calculated?
  5. As with all disability accommodations, exceptions to the attendance policy will be determined on an individual, case-by-case basis depending on:
    • a. The extent to which the submitted medical or psychological documentation from a licensed professional qualified to diagnose and treat the disability in question supports the need for an exception to an attendance policy, and
    • b. The reasonableness of this accommodation in each requested class as determined by discussions between Student Disability Services and the course instructor based upon the above criteria. In questionable cases, the academic department head and/or other appropriate academic administrator may be included in these discussions.
  6. An exception to the attendance policy does not mean that unlimited absences can be permitted. The number of additional absences a student may receive as a reasonable accommodation will be determined on a case-by-case basis for each class, 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 as outlined in Paragraphs 4 and 5 (a) and (b) of this Policy.
  7. Exception to the attendance policy does not mean exception to any of the other academic requirements of the course. Students are required to fulfill all course requirements and will be held to the same evaluation standards as specified in the course syllabus.
  8. Students who are approved for an exception to the attendance policy are expected to contact instructors in advance of an anticipated absence if possible. This is particularly important if the anticipated absence will result in the student missing a quiz or exam or a deadline for turning in an assignment. For emergencies or unexpected disability-related absences, contact should be made as soon as possible to verify the reason for the absence and to discuss make-up work.
  9. Students should be aware that although an exception to the attendance policy has been made for them, absences may have a negative impact on their academic performance simply because of the content and experiential learning they may have missed by not being in class. For this reason, students should make every attempt to attend class and to observe deadlines for submission of assignments.
  10. Students should be aware that exception to the attendance policy may not be possible in every course because class attendance is an essential, integral part of some courses, as discussed in Paragraph 4 of this policy.