Student Disability Services does not provide a waiver for attendance in a class due to a medical condition nor do we “certify” that a given student qualifies for a given number of absences related to their disability.
If “attendance” is marked on the Student Academic Accommodation Request Form (SAAR form) under other classroom accommodations this means that SDS has information on file that a student’s disability may impact their attendance if their condition were to exacerbate.
Faculty are free to use their own judgment in how to respond to students where this is the case. Attendance policies should clearly be stated on the syllabus including if and how to contact the instructor if a student is unable to attend class.
In determining the importance of attendance as a factor in grading the Office of Civil Rights has suggested that four questions be addressed:
Is there classroom interaction between instructor and students, and among students?
Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process?
Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon student participation as an essential method for learning?
To what extent does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class?
This type of accommodation necessitates an interactive process between the student and the instructor at the beginning of the semester to determine what is “reasonable” in regard to class absences, how absences will be communicated to the instructor, and what “makeup” work, if any, will be allowed to mitigate the impact of the class absence. If the amount of work missed is significant, the possibility of withdrawing from the class should also be discussed.
Promising practices in dealing with class absence include allowing the student to attend another section of the class (if available), providing an alternate version of an exam that is missed (or using last year’s version if available), and substituting a paper, presentation or an oral exam for a written exam.
Student Disability Services is always available for consultation if a faculty member or student has additional questions of concerns in this regard.