Policies and Procedures for Disability-Related
Exceptions to Attendance Policies
What students with disabilities need to know about attendance
Disability Services (DS) does not have a role in determining course attendance policies. Because attendance may be integral to the pedagogic process, these policies are set by faculty at the college, departmental, or individual level. In some cases, attendance is fundamental to course objectives; for example, students may be required to interact with others in the class, to demonstrate the ability to think and argue critically, to participate in group projects.
Similarly, instructors also determine policies regarding make-up work and missed quizzes and exams. Faculty members are not required to lower or effect substantial modifications to essential requirements/academic standards for accommodation purposes.
What DS can do for students
DS can provide students with written verification (Request for Accommodations) of their disabilities, based upon appropriate medical and/or psychological documentation. This verification can address the legitimacy of reasonable absences. These requests for accommodations forms are delivered to faculty and provide a forum in which discussions of attendance and make-up policies and procedures can take place.
Students should listen closely to faculty announcements about attendance and make-up policies and procedures. Also, check your course syllabus for information about these issues. Each party should keep a written copy of what alterations may be decided upon with input from the student and the DS Coordinator.
- Students are expected to follow the attendance policy established by the individual course instructor.
- The College recognizes, however, that there may be times when a qualified student with a disability cannot attend class because of disability-related reasons.
- If a student with a disability believes it may not be possible to abide by the attendance policy because of issues related to the effects of a disabling condition, the student should contact the Disability Services Coordinator as soon as the need for an exception becomes known. Decisions about attendance exceptions are made by the course instructor, DS Coordinator, with consultation, if necessary, with the department chair, ADAAA Coordinator, or other appropriate administrator.
- Essential Course Requirements: Westminster will make every effort to reasonably accommodate a student’s disability related academic needs. However, neither the College nor an individual faculty member is required to waive an essential or fundamental academic requirement of a course, regardless of the nature of the impact of the student’s disability.
- The academic department establishes and defines the essential or fundamental academic requirements for its courses and instructors may, of course, establish a reasonable/acceptable number of excused absences in light of these academic requirements. Attendance policies for each course are usually written into the course syllabus.
- Questions to be considered when examining exceptions to attendance policies:
- Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among the students themselves?
- Do student contributions in class constitute a significant part of the learning process?
- Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential learning method?
- To what degree does a student’s failure to attend class constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students?
- What does the course description and syllabus indicate regarding participation and attendance?
- By what method is the final grade calculated?
An exception to the attendance policy does not mean that unlimited absences will be permitted or that other academic requirements of the course will be part of the exception. Students with disabilities are, as always, required to fulfill all course requirements and will be held to the same evaluation standard as other students in the course. As with all disability accommodations, exceptions to an attendance policy will be determined on an individual basis. The disability documentation must support this type of request. Accommodations are not retroactive.
Please call the DS Coordinator at 832-2281 if you have questions.