Intermittent Adjustment to Attendance and Coursework

Intermittent Adjustment Accommodation 

Students with disabilities that are chronic or episodic in nature may at times require flexibility with syllabus policies, like attendance and deadlines. Federal law requires colleges and universities to consider reasonable modification of syllabus policies if needed to accommodate a student’s disability that impacts attendance. In conjunction with the Attendance Policy for Students detailed in the Faculty Handbook, Section 2.3, the Intermittent Adjustment to Attendance and Coursework Accommodation (Intermittent Adjustment) covers additional absences and the ability to make-up participation points, exams/quizzes, or other graded components missed due to disability-related absence, without penalty.  Each course has its own unique design and learning outcomes. This accommodation is NOT intended to provide unlimited flexibility nor be automatically applied to all assignments/absences, However, it should be provided unless it threatens the integrity of the course as offered.  

This accommodation requires careful consideration and an open dialogue between the student, instructor, and CEA.  To create a smoother process and better assist with facilitating such discussions, faculty are strongly advised to complete the Intermittent Adjustment Plan for their course(s). This is a fillable form to outline what flexibility is reasonable, based on the course's essential components / objectives, and to be shared and reviewed with applicable students, by course/section.

Below is additional information/guidance on completing an Intermittent Adjustment Plan, faculty/student roles for appropriate implementation, determining essential course components, and accommodation limitations. After reviewing the additional guidance materials below, faculty are welcome to consult with CEA staff about the particulars of their course and what level of flexibility makes sense. Contact an CEA Access Counselor at or 479-575-3104. 


Creating an Intermittent Adjustment (IA) Plan 

  • The Intermittent Adjustment Plan should be completed at the beginning of the semester or as soon as faculty receive a student's accommodation letter with this accommodation specified. Upon completing the IA Plan, faculty will receive email confirmation with responses. 

  • Because the IA plan is based in the curriculum, Faculty only need to submit one form per course (or one per course section, if syllabus policies vary between sections),  to be used for each eligibile student in that course/section.
    • Note: as accommodations should be considered on an individual basis, students may follow up with their instructor(s) or CEA should a more individualized Intermittent Adjustment Plan be needed. 

  • Upon receipt of the student's accommodation letter, faculty are responsible for emailing the course's Intermittent Adjustment Plan to eligible students individually and addressing students' questions about the plan. 

    • Note: While faculty are welcome to encourage students to meet to discuss this accommodation in detail, it should not be a prerequisite to completing & providing students with the Intermittent Adjust Plan. 

  • Students will still need to communicate with instructors about the details of this accommodation, such as preferred method of communication and when to notify instructor of a disability-related absence, missed exam/quiz, need to use a deadline extension, etc.

  • CEA may contact faculty with questions about the parameters listed on their Intermittent Adjustment Plan. 

The Default Intermittent Adjustment Plan Option

Faculty may opt into using the CEA's Default Intermittent Adjustment Plan, which is based upon best practice guidance and outlines a baseline of flexibility that should work for many traditional lecture courses.  However, instructors may decide that additional flexibility is reasonable. Students will still need to communicate with instructors about the details of this accommodation. 

 The default plan is as follows: 

      • Attendance/Absences – Student will have twice the number of absences permitted for other students as stated in the class attendance policy. Some courses may include the following connected with required attendance:

        • Attendance Points – Student will not be penalized for missed attendance points

        • Classroom Participation/Discussion – Student will be given an alternate opportunity to makeup missed participation points (e.g., written contribution, reading summary, etc.)

      • Missed exams/quizzes (if date specific) – Student will be allowed the opportunity to make up within 1 week.

      • Deadlines/Extensions – Student can submit late/missed assignment within 48 hours after initial deadline.

PLEASE NOTE: The above default plan may NOT adequately address requirements in non-lecture courses courses with a high level of hands-on/interactive components (such as clinicals, practicums/internships, fieldwork, etc.).  Faculty seeking more stringent parameters than those in the Default Plan should complete a Course Specific Intermittent Adjustment Plan to detail what flexibility is reasonable for their course. 

Guidelines on Intermittent Adjustment for Attendance and Coursework

Evaluating the Role of Class Participation: The focus of this accommodation is on the essential element of participation. These questions, which are provided by the Office of Civil Rights (Case no. 09-96-2150), are designed to help identify the role in-class participation has toward students meeting course outcomes/objectives.  

    • Is there classroom interaction between the instructor and students and among students?
    • Do student contributions in class 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?
    • What method is used to calculate the final grade?
    • What are the classroom practices and policies regarding attendance? 
  • Troubleshooting/Conflict: Under no circumstances are students solely responsible for the resolution of conflicts arising from disability-related absences. Please contact the CEA if a conflict or disagreement occurs. 

  • Documentation and Communication: The need for a student’s Intermittent Adjustment has been documented through the CEA registration process; no additional medical documentation is needed. If the course policy requires medical documentation for an excused absence, make-up exam, etc., the student's accommodation letter should serve as sufficient documentation.

    • The student is still expected to maintain prompt and regular communication with instructors as flare-ups occur throughout the semester. While proactive notice is strongly encouraged, that may not always be possible given the nature of a student's acute episode. It is permissible for instructors to require notice within 24 hours of the missed class/assignment.

  • Makeup Exams: Makeup exams of equivalent difficulty must be offered to students with intermittent adjustment plans, even if the course policy is to drop the lowest exam or offer a comprehensive makeup exam at the end of the semester. While a student may choose to opt-in to these alternative options, an equivalent makeup exam must be available as an option. 

  • Asynchronous Weekly Participation Assignments: While Intermittent Adjustment does cover deadline extensions for most types of homework, they do not typically apply to asynchronous weekly participation assignments. By that we mean short discussion board posts, or other coursework common to online classes, which are open for the whole week and require very little time to complete. Students are expected to complete these assignments within their standard time frames. However, if a student has extenuating circumstances (e.g. hospitalization), they should contact instructors and the CEA so that we can discuss the situation on a case-by-case basis. 

  • Falling Behind: If at any point students’ symptoms worsen to the point that they are falling behind and are unable to meet the terms of the intermittent adjustment plan, please contact the CEA. We can work together with the student to determine the best path forward. 

Intermittent Adjustment plans are NOT intended to provide...

  • Unlimited flexibility. Almost all classes have a limit to the amount of flexibility possible, based on the course design.
  • Automatic flexibility. Flexibility should only be applied in the event of a disability-related acute episode or essential medical treatment. Use of this accommodation is not permitted for seasonal illness and disabilities not documented by the CEA.
  • This accommodation may not alter the essential component of the course.
  • This accommodation may not be permissible where class attendance or participation is considered to be an essential component of the course.  However, instructors may not deny an accommodation without first consulting with the CEA.

CEA Staff are happy to consult with faculty and academic departments to determine a reasonable Intermittent Adjustment Plan and address any questions/concerns regarding the use and limitations of this accommodation. Contact the CEA via email ( or phone (479-575-3104) - we are here to help!