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The difference between success and failure for students with special education needs often comes down to how effectively the curriculum is adapted to individual needs. Accommodations and modifications are the tools used by the IEP team to achieve that end.

Accommodations allow a student to complete the same tasks as their typical peers but with some variation in time, format, setting, and/or presentation. The purpose of an accommodation is to provide a student with equal access to learning and an equal opportunity to show what he knows and what he can do.

Accommodations are categorized in four ways:

  1. Variations in time: adapting the time allotted for learning, task completion, or testing

  2. Variation of input: adapting the way instruction is delivered

  3. Variation of output: adapting how a student can respond to instruction

  4. Variation of size: adapting the number of items the student is expected to complete


Examples of accommodations include:

General Accommodations

Large print textbooks
Textbooks for at-home use
Additional time for assignments
A locker with adapted lock
Review of directions
Review sessions
Use of mnemonics
Have student restate information
Provision of notes or outlines
Concrete examples
Adaptive writing utensils
Support auditory presentations with visuals
Use of a study carrel
Assistance in maintaining uncluttered space
Weekly home-school communication tools (notebook, daily log, phone calls or email messages)
Peer or scribe note-taking
Space for movement or breaks
Study sheets and teacher outlines
Extra visual and verbal cues and prompts
Lab and math sheets with highlighted instructions
Graph paper to assist in organizing or lining up math problems
Use of tape recorder for lectures
Use of computers and calculators
Books on tape
Graphic organizers
Quiet corner or room to calm down and relax when anxious
Preferential seating
Alteration of the classroom arrangement
Reduction of distractions
Answers to be dictated
Hands-on activities
Use of manipulatives
No penalty for spelling errors or sloppy handwriting
Follow a routine/schedule
Alternate quiet and active time
Teach time management skills
Rest breaks
Verbal and visual cues regarding directions and staying on task
Agenda book and checklists
Daily check-in with case manager or special education teacher
Adjusted assignment timelines
Visual daily schedule
Varied reinforcement procedures
Immediate feedback
Work-in-progress check
Personalized examples

Testing and Assessment Accommodations

Answers to be dictated
Frequent rest breaks
Additional time
Oral testing
Untimed tests
Choice of test format (multiple-choice, essay, true-false)
Alternate ways to evaluate (projects or oral presentations instead of written tests)
Accept short answers
Open-book or open-note tests
Read test and directions to student
Provide study guides prior to tests
Highlight key directions
Test in alternative site
Use of calculator or word processor
Extra credit option
Pace long-term projects
Preview test procedures
Simplified test wording; rephrased test questions and/or directions

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