What is the difference between accommodations and modifications? Instruction can be adapted to a student’s needs by either accommodations and/or modifications. In general, a 504 plan for a student with a disability allows for accommodations, while an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) for a student whose disability prevents him or her from accessing the general curriculum allows for both accommodations and modifications, in addition to related services and supports, such as speech-language therapy or counseling services.

Accommodations are adjustments made in how a student with a disability is taught or assessed/tested. Accommodations do not change what the student is taught or what he is expected to know. Common examples of accommodations are: giving the student extra time to complete assignments or tests, seating close to the teacher, allowing a student to type an assignment rather than handwrite it.

Modifications change the level of instruction provided or assessed/tested. Modifications create a different standard for the student receiving them.  When used, curriculum modifications should be written specifically in the student’s IEP and not left to interpretation by different individuals. Examples of modifications are shorter reading or writing assignments, reducing the length or difficulty of assignments, ie, fewer or different math problems for homework. The goal of a modification is to allow the student access to the general curriculum that he/she would otherwise not have. 

Other examples of accommodations include but are not limited to the following:

Accommodations to the physical environment

Seat the student near the teacher.

Seat the student near someone who will be helpful and understanding.

Seat the student in an area free from distraction.

Seat the student out of main traffic area.

Provide more space for the student to store and use various instruction aids and equipment.

Allow the student additional break or rest times.

Establish and use learning centers.

Arrange classroom to facilitate small group, large group, and peer learning opportunities.

Ensure proper desk height and seating comfort.

Ensure proper lighting.

Ensure that various materials, supplies, and room composition do not result in allergic reactions by student.

Ask parents to structure study time. Give them information about your long-term assignments.

Encourage teacher to move around the classroom for proximity control.


Accommodations for Organization

Help student use an assignment notebook or monthly calendar.

Allow additional time to complete tasks/take tests.

Help student organize notebook or provide a folder to organize work,

Help student set time limits for assignment completion; structure is important.

Help student set up timeline for completion of long assignments.

Question student to help focus on important information.

Help highlight the main concepts in student’s books.

Ask student to repeat directions before beginning tasks.


Accommodations to Instructional Materials

Use large print materials for low vision students.

Use Braille for students who cannot read print.

Use high interest, low vocabulary reading materials.

Allow student to high light texts and show him how to do it.

Use multi-sensory materials.

Allow tape-recorded materials.

Allow student to use calculator.

Use concrete manipulative materials.

Provide student with advance organizers.

Provide student with advance lecture outline.

Provide students with lecture notes.

Have spell-check capabilities available for student.

Provide student with pretest questions.


Accommodations During Testing

Allow student to take tests orally.

Allow student to use a scribe during testing.

Allow student more time during testing.

Allow student to break tests into shorter testing sections.

Allow student to use spell check or dictionary.

Allow student to tape record answers.

Allow student to provide answers orally.

Use different test formats (essay, short answer, objective).

Shorten length of test.

Use simple directions.

Use instructional aids to facilitate testing.

Allow student to take test in a quiet area.


Accommodations to Instructional Method and Presentation

Use peer tutoring

Use peer buddies

Provide note-takers

Use graphic organizers

Use study guides

Allow student to use tape recorder

Use multi-sensory instructional materials

Use audio-visual resources

Use computer and computer programs

Use simple directions

Provide short term feedback for students

Teach and reinforce study skills

Break long assignments into multiple, short assignments to facilitate closer monitoring and feedback

Provide extensive feedback and monitoring

Use culturally sensitive materials

Use low vocabulary/high interest materials

Use flexible homework criteria for different students

Use a homework assignment book

Use materials that are age and developmentally appropriate

Provide photocopies of teacher’s notes

Stress auditory, visual, kinesthetic mode of presentation

Recap or summarize the main ideas of the lecture

Use verbal cues to help students organize notes such as “The next important step is …”

Avoid embarrassing student by requiring him/her to read orally in class (unless student can be successful.)

Encourage student to ask for assistance when needed.

Be aware of possible frustrations.

Reinforce appropriate participation in class.

Use nonverbal communication to reinforce appropriate behavior.

Develop and maintain regular school-home communication.

Encourage development and sharing of special interests.

Use memory devices to help student remember facts and concepts.


Accommodations to Curriculum

Help provide supplementary materials that student can read.

Provide partial outlines of chapters, study guides, and testing outlines.

Provide opportunities for extra drill before tests.

Reduce quantity of materials. (Shorten spelling and vocabulary lists.)

Provide alternative assignments that don’t require writing.

Allow student to print.

Supply student with samples or work expected.

Encourage good quality of work and not quantity.

Use worksheets that are visually clear and adequately spaced.

Allow student to have sample tests.

Provide all possible test items and student or teacher selects specified number.

Give oral quizzes.

Provide extra assignments/test time if necessary.

Make sure assignments are started correctly in class.


Accommodations to Homework

Give student more time to complete homework

Allow student to complete assignments using a tape recorder

Modify the amount of homework.

Tape -record the homework assignment for the student.

Write the homework assignment on the board for the student.

Use a homework assignment notebook to communicate with the parents.

Repeat homework assignments.

Use variable grading scales.

Give homework assignment for one week at a time rather than one day at a time.

Use peer grading in homework assignments.

Use peer buddies in homework assignments.