Flexibility with Deadlines Policy

If a student has a disability that is episodic or cyclical in nature, where acute symptoms flare up and impact the student’s ability to complete an assignment on time, or where treatment and hospitalization may be required, an accommodation for flexible deadlines may be necessary to ensure equal access. 

As deadline requirements are often an important part of a course, this is a carefully considered accommodation that can provide an alternate way for a student to complete essential course requirements. Typically, it is recommended that students receive 1-2 additional days of flexibility for deadlines when the need arises. However, as requirements vary widely between courses, requests are considered on an individual basis, often in collaboration with the instructor. Accommodations are intended to remove barriers, however, they may not change or lower the essential learning objectives of a course. In some instances, timely submission of assignments may be fundamental to the course objectives, and therefore, an accommodation will not be appropriate.

Students have a responsibility to communicate their need to use their flexibility with deadlines accommodation with their instructors as far in advance of a deadline as possible. In addition, students should not assume that an extension for all course deadlines will be granted as timely submission may be an essential component of certain assignments. Accessible Education is available to provide support at any point to students and faculty in navigating this accommodation.


Determining if an Accommodation is Reasonable

If a student is approved for a flexibility with deadlines accommodation through the Office of Accessible Education, the next step is to identify potential barriers in a particular course and determine what, if any, accommodations might be reasonable. In some cases, a course might be designed in a way that eliminates, or significantly reduces, barriers related to deadlines and, therefore, the implementation of an accommodation might not be necessary.  The following are questions that the instructor and Accessible Education will use to determine whether a reasonable extension of an assignment deadline is appropriate:

  1. What are the essential course requirements?
  2. Would an extension (or multiple extensions)  fundamentally alter the course?
  3. What does the syllabus indicate regarding late work and completion deadlines?
  4. Does the fundamental nature of the course rely upon timely completion of assignments as an essential method of learning?
  5. What is the purpose of the assignment? Is it necessary to have it completed before an exam? Before a discussion?
  6. Is the material being learned in the class sequential? Does each assignment or each week’s material build on the material learned in previous assignments or week?
  7. To what degree does the failure to submit timely completion of assignments constitute a significant loss of the education experience for other students in the class?
  8. Are there other lab/class sections the student could attend to catch up on missed material?
  9. What is the average amount of time all students are expected to spend on the assignment? Does the student’s circumstance necessitate an extension beyond this deadline?
  10. What is the maximum extension that can be given without compromising the fundamental nature of the course?

Developing an Accommodation Plan:

If it is determined that a flexibility with deadlines accommodation is appropriate for this course, the student and instructor will work together to develop a plan for implementing the accommodation. The plan should include considerations related to exams, a communication strategy, and any other details related to the implementation of the accommodation.  If in-class assessments (e.g., quizzes/exams) are a component of this course, be sure that your plan addresses makeup assessment procedures should the student be unable to complete the assessment at the scheduled time or if they do not have an equal opportunity to prepare in advance in the day(s) leading up to the assessment.  Students and instructors may find it useful to use this worksheet in developing their accommodation plan.

Instructor Responsibilities

  • Meet with the student to develop a plan.
  • If an extension is granted, communicate specific information to the student about revised due date and timing.
  • Document communications relating to accommodation requests.
  • Consult with AE as needed

Student Responsibilities

  • If an accommodation is approved, schedule a meeting with your instructor within the first week or class or sooner to discuss a plan for how you should communicate with them if you need to request an extension on an individual assignment.
  • Maintain regular communication with your instructor throughout the semester.
  • If you are experiencing significant challenges with meeting deadlines or have multiple classes with deadlines which are difficult to meet, meet with an Accessible Education staff member or your Student Support Advisor to consider alternative strategies.

Important Notes

  • Like any accommodation, an accommodation for flexibility is not retroactive, meaning an agreement must be in place prior to any missed deadline. Any consideration or provision of a retroactive accommodation would be the discretion of the instructor.
  • If an extension is required relating to a final assignment or assessment, a course deferral might be required.  Students should connect with their Student Support Advisor for assistance.