Skip to main content

Modified Attendance Policy

Illinois State University views class attendance as an individual student responsibility, and it is expected that students follow established classroom attendance policies. Some students with a disability and/or medical/mental health condition that is chronic and/or episodic/cyclical in nature may request a modified attendance accommodation.

Determining how many absences are reasonable for a modified attendance accommodation

The following guidelines are used in considering whether following the attendance policy/practice will fundamentally alter an essential part of the academic program/course:

  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?
  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?
  6. Which method is used to calculate the final grade?
  7. What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance?

Once an accommodation is approved by Student Access and Accommodation Services (SAAS), the accommodation will be provided unless the accommodation fundamentally alters an essential part of the course/program.


When a student presents a request for modified attendance, SAAS will follow its process for reviewing accommodation requests. This includes review of appropriate and comprehensive medical documentation related to the disability and/or medical/mental health condition and the rationale for the requested accommodation to make a determination. Accommodations are not retroactive and will not apply when a student has not notified their instructor of the approved accommodation. No medical or psychological information will be shared with instructors. SAAS will only confirm the absences are related to a disability and/or medical/mental health condition.


Students must request a modified attendance accommodation by filling out a request for services.

The student must supply supporting verification from a qualified professional identifying the diagnosis and need for the requested accommodation. Please see the documentation requirements.

The Documentation Review Committee will review the request and the supporting documentation to determine eligibility.

If a student is determined eligible, an access training appointment will be scheduled. A student who is found eligible for a modified attendance accommodation is made aware of their responsibility to communicate with instructors about this accommodation and to understand that they must meet the requirements of the course, even if they have a modified attendance accommodation. Students are provided with faculty notification letters that they send to instructors identifying the need for the accommodation. Absences are not considered an accommodation until the student presents the faculty notification letter to the instructor.

Student Responsibilities

  • Initiate conversation with instructors early, prior to the need for the accommodation.
  • Understand that not all classes can offer flexibility in attendance, if in-person attendance is fundamentally essential to the academic program/class.
  • Do not just send the faculty notification letter to instructors. A conversation must occur between the student and their instructor to plan out ways to still meet the requirements of the class when there is a disability-related absence.
  • Student must contact their instructors and SAAS coordinator prior to any disability related absence.
  • If student is unable to communicate, the student should choose an alternate individual to relay the information to the SAAS office. The SAAS coordinator will let the instructors know about the student's absence.
  • Student is required to complete all course work.
  • If a student is not able to complete an assignment, or if they miss an exam/quiz, it is the student’s responsibility to contact the instructor and arrange to complete the course work.
  • A student may be asked to supply documentation from a medical provider to SAAS related to the disability-related absences.
  • If the student is unable to return to classes, the student may be referred to the Student Resource and Referral Center to inquire about other alternatives (ie. a withdrawal from the course or, if appropriate, contacting the instructors regarding Incompletes).
  • If SAAS determines that modified attendance will fundamentally alter a course, the accommodation will not apply to that course.

Faculty/Instructor Responsibilities

  • If you believe the requested modified attendance accommodation would fundamentally alter a course, SAAS should be contacted as soon as possible to discuss.
  • If a student has an approved accommodation and has provided their faculty notification letter, the instructor must understand they must be flexible with the attendance policies.
  • Be available to discuss the accommodation with the student.
  • Be very clear about expectations when meeting with the student and contacting SAAS for any assistance.
  • If a student’s absences become excessive, please let SAAS know so we can follow up with the student if needed.
  • When a class is missed due to a disability-related absence, a general rule for determining a reasonable time frame for a makeup or postponement of an assignment (such as a paper, exam, or quiz) is the time equivalent to that which was missed.
  • Instructors who need assistance in making this accommodation work for their students without fundamentally altering an essential part of the program/class should contact SAAS to discuss further.