Modified Attendance Guidelines

Purdue University Disability Resource Center (DRC) recognizes the critical value for students to meet attendance and assignment responsibilities in each course. However, some students with disabilities may be approved for an accommodation of modified attendance due to a disability, which may require the development of a Modified Attendance Agreement. Students with a modified attendance accommodation typically have disabilities that are chronic or episodic in nature, and may cause difficulties with class attendance or deadlines. This document is intended to aid instructor and students as they navigate the modified attendance accommodation. The DRC is available and should be contacted if an instructor or students need assistance in the development or implementation of this accommodation.

Modifying course policies

The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provided the following guidelines to be used in considering whether attendance is an essential element of a course:

  • Is there classroom interaction between the 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 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 say?
  • Which method is used to calculate the final grade?
  • What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?

The accommodation should be provided unless the accommodation threatens the integrity of the course as offered.  It is important that the student and course instructor discuss the issue so that the student can then make an informed decision regarding alternatives. Requests for accommodations for absences due to a disability should be considered on an individual and course-by-course basis.

Class Absences

When a class is missed due to a disability related absence, a general rule for determining a reasonable timeframe for a makeup or postponement of an assignment (such as a paper, exam or quiz) is the time equivalent to that which was missed. In certain courses, it may be appropriate to consider an alternative assignment, reading or project to make up for missed class discussion or projects. Other examples of how disability related absences may be accommodated may include the ability to submit or make up missed assignments or assessments that have been impacted by the disability-related absence without grade penalty. To help facilitate the discussion and set parameters between the instructor student a Modified Attendance Agreement should be completed at the time the Course Accessibility Letter is shared by the student.

The Student and instructor should meet and discuss this for each course to clarify expectations and set guidelines. The DRC is always available to both parties to help craft the development and implementation of the agreement.

  • The Modified Attendance Agreement should be completed at the beginning of the semester or as soon as the student presents the Course Accessibility Letter to the instructor.
  • This agreement should be established before absences have become an issue. Instructors are only required to provide approved disability-related accommodations after receiving a Course Accessibility Letter.
  • The method and timing of notification of absences and making up any materials, exams, assignments, etc. missed due to the absence should be mutually agreed upon and detailed in the Modified Attendance Agreement.
  • Modification of the attendance policy does not mean that unlimited absences will be permitted.
  • When a student is absent due to their disability, they are responsible for the course content, lecture notes and information presented that day. The student needs to arrange how they will obtain this information.
  • The student is not required to present the instructor with medical documentation verifying their disability-related absences, but may be required to document other non-disability related absences as per the syllabus requirements. Absences for non-disability related reasons are not considered under the Modified Attendance Agreement.
  • While the DRC is always available to consult, in most instances, communication with the DRC and the provision of additional documentation is not needed to verify the student’s absence(s). However, if the absences meet or exceeds the number of absences agreed upon in the Modified Attendance Agreement, the DRC should be informed.
  • If the student requests a change to the number of absences initially agreed upon due to a change in their disability, the student should be referred to their Access Consultant in the DRC to discuss this.
  • The student should understand that this accommodation is intended to facilitate their access and does not guarantee their success in a given course.
Modified Attendance Agreement