Disability-Related Absence Accommodation

The SAC is charged with coordinating reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities to ensure equal access to the educational environment. All students, with or without accommodations, are held to the same academic standards and are required to meet essential course requirements, including regular class attendance and completion of coursework. However, students with chronic physical or mental health conditions with unpredictable/episodic flare-ups may occasionally be impacted in their ability to attend class, submit an assignment on the scheduled due date, or take an exam or quiz on the scheduled date or time. In these cases, Disability-Related Absences may be considered an appropriate accommodation. The number of allowable absences and length of assignment extensions depends on various factors, including the interactive and participatory nature of a course, or is based on department or accrediting agency rules.

SAC has created guidelines for students & faculty to help navigate this accommodation.


While an attendance policy may already be listed on the syllabus, this accommodation is intended to modify the stated policy to allow for some flexibility beyond that limit to account for the student’s disability-related needs. This accommodation should always be considered on an individual basis and include a critical analysis of how attendance is essential to the class learning objectives. This analysis helps to determine how attendance is tied to course objectives. 

When this accommodation is approved, instructors will fill out a Disability-Related Absence Agreement Form to clarify expectations should an unexpected flare-up of the student’s chronic condition occur during the term. The agreement must include an allowance for an additional number of disability-related absences that will be allowed beyond what the syllabus policy is for all students. It must also include a plan for assignment submissions, should a disability-related absence disrupt a deadline.  

The number of reasonable absences and length of extensions is not unlimited, which is why this agreement is important for both faculty and students. The degree of flexibility will vary and is based on several factors, including course format and learning objectives. Classes that are highly interactive or participatory in nature may have less room for attendance flexibility than classes in a lecture format. Instructors are responsible for analyzing course requirements and determining essential course standards. Even with this accommodation, students are still expected to meet the same learning goals and essential course requirements. 


Because courses have different policies regarding attendance and assignment deadlines, this accommodation requires a course-by-course assessment to determine what is reasonable and appropriate. Not every class can be flexed in the same way. There may be reasonable limits to flexibility based on design and structure of the course, specific learning objectives and department or accrediting agency rules. The Office of Civil Rights has recommended considering the following questions when determining to what extent flexibility is reasonable: 

  1. Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among students?   
  2. Do student contributions constitute a significant component of the learning process? (i.e. discussions, presentations, role play, group work) 
  3. Does the fundamental nature of the course rely on student participation as an essential method for learning? 
  4. To what degree does a student’s failure to attend constitute a significant loss to the educational experience of other students in the class? 
  5. What do the course description and syllabus say about attendance? 
  6. Which method is used to calculate the final grade? Is attendance factored into the final grade? 
  7. Is the attendance policy consistently applied? (i.e. have there been exceptions made to the policy for non-disabled students, such as for athletic travel or religious observances? If so, these exceptions should also be granted for students with disabilities).  

In determining to what extent assignment extensions may be reasonable, it can be helpful to think though the following questions: 

  1. If an assignment is not completed by the deadline, will the student be unprepared to participate in a class meeting?  
  2. If an assignment is not completed by the deadline, will there be a direct impact on the learning experience of other students (team projects, participation)? 
  3. Would an additional day or two extension alter the purpose and ability to grade the assignment using the same criteria applied to the class?  

The answers to these questions might vary across assignments. It might be reasonable for students to receive an extension on some assignments but not others. It is important to clarify this in the Agreement form.  

After consideration of these questions, we ask that instructors fill out the Disability-Related Absence Agreement Form. A reasonable amount of flexibility should be provided unless it significantly compromises the integrity of the course. If you believe additional absences beyond the stated policy would fundamentally alter the nature or essential elements of your class, please clearly indicate the reasoning on the Agreement form, and/or consult with the SAC.  


  1. Student registers with the SAC and requests accommodations.  
  2. Faculty will receive a system-generated accommodation notice from the SAC including all accommodations the student is eligible for in their course.  
  3. SAC will follow up the system-generated notification by sending a Disability Related Absence Agreement to faculty along with guidelines to fill out the agreement. Any questions should be directed to SAC (785-864-4064). Faculty should complete and submit the agreement to the SAC within 3 business days.  
  4. SAC will review the agreement to ensure a reasonable accommodation is met.  
  5. SAC will send the faculty-completed, SAC-approved agreement to the student for review.  
  6. If the student has concerns or questions regarding the agreement, SAC will address these issues with conversation(s) between the faculty and/or student.  
  7. Once the agreement is sent to the student, it will be considered active if the student does not respond within 3 business days. If the student indicates approval of the agreement, it will be considered active immediately. SAC will keep a record of the finalized agreement.  


  • This accommodation is not intended to support a substantial number of missed classes or assignment extensions.  
  •  Some students register late in the term or wait to request this accommodation until late in the term.  In these cases, faculty are not expected to provide retroactive accommodations. However, it may still be helpful to have a SAC-approved, faculty-completed finalized agreement, even at a late point in the term.  
  • The student is not required to present the faculty member with medical documentation verifying their disability-related absence for this accommodation. All medical documentation is held by the SAC.  
  • Absences that are not related to disability are not included in this accommodation (e.g. absences due to a common illness, car trouble, childcare, etc.) and should be addressed according to the attendance policy stated in the syllabus and the University Excused Absence policy if applicable.  
  • Not every course component can be provided an extension, and this should be addressed in the Agreement form.  
  • Students are responsible for completing all class work and are required to meet all essential components of the course. 
  • This accommodation can be critical to the success of a student who has a chronic illness or condition that flares up unexpectedly. At any time, faculty are encouraged to contact the SAC with concerns they have about the accommodation or guidance on how to implement it.  


If the number of absences on the agreement form is exceeded, the student and instructor should meet to discuss an appropriate course of action. The path forward will likely depend on the student’s progress outside of their attendance. Has the student otherwise been keeping up with assignments/exams, but are just missing more days than originally anticipated? Are they missing class AND not keeping up with work? Depending on student progress and situation, some courses of action could include: 

  • Granting an incomplete 
  • Advising the student to withdraw from the course 
  • Reviewing and updating the number of absences allowed on the agreement form if student progress in the course warrants reconsideration 

SAC is available to help faculty think through these options based on the student’s specific circumstances and disability.  

*Partially adapted from Oregon State University’s Disability Access Services website.