List of Reasonable Accommodations and Modifications for Students with Learning Disabilities

Posted by Erica Warren on

Getting the best reasonable accommodations for struggling learners with disabilities can be a challenge.  The list of possible options is rarely made available to parents, so many remain unaware of the diverse options.  The first step is the understand the difference between reasonable accommodations and modifications. 

Happy kid jumping because he's getting reasonable accommodations in school

Accommodations vs. Modifications?

The United States clumps accommodations and modifications under the term reasonable accommodations, but other countries, such as Canada make a distinction between the two. An accommodation describes an alteration of the environment, curriculum format, or equipment that allows an individual with a disability to gain access to content and/or complete assigned tasks. Since accommodations do not alter what is being taught, instructors should be able to implement the same grading scale. Some examples of accommodations include: preferential seating, audiobooks, and speech to text technology.

A modification describes a change in the curriculum. Modifications are made for students with disabilities who are unable to comprehend the content. For example, assignments might be simplified, or a student might receive a foreign language exemption. Some reasonable accommodations are difficult to discriminate and teeter between an accommodation and modification. For example, small group or individualized instruction could be an accommodation or a modification. It all depends on whether the expectations or curriculum is modified.

Who can Initiate Reasonable Accommodations?

Any student with a qualified disability or their legal guardian/parent can request a meeting that can result in reasonable accommodations. Please note that the disability must be documented by the school or an outside source and the results must be presented at the meeting.

Executive Functioning Coaching

What are Some Common Reasonable Accommodations?

Here is a list of general options. However, it will be your school's special education committee that decides which options will provide the necessary accommodations.

Overall Teaching Techniques
  • Provide a consistent daily routine.
  • Make sure documents are well organized and are not too visually dense.
  • Preview new topics and review the vocabulary.
  • Review old topics to assure the retention of knowledge.
  • Use small group or one-to-one instruction.
  • Break projects into organized, activities with clear expectations and deadlines.
  • Offer reminders to write down and turn in assignments.
  • Offer modified in-class and homework assignments.
  • Provide extended time for homework assignments.
  • Provide a list of homework assignments that is accessible to the student as well as the parents.
  • Provide a foreign language substitution, waiver or exemption.
  • Provide audiobooks through organizations such as RaziKids, Learning Alley or Bookshare.
  • Provide a picture of directions and schedules.
  • Provide extra time when reading.
  • Shorten reading assignments.
  • Simplify directions and highlight keywords.
  • Provide oral directions, check for understanding, and repeat directions - if needed.
  • Offer a larger font with less content on each page.
  • Provide text to speech and technology.
  • Supply the use of a computer with a spell check or a hand-held spell check.
  • Offer no penalty for incorrect spelling on classroom writing and tests.
  • Supply a copy of the teacher’s or another student’s notes or provide notes with a few blanks for students to fill in.
  • Shorten writing assignments.
  • Offer a scribe for classroom writing assignments and testing situations.
  • Allow the use a tape recorder or a Smart Pen.
  • Provide a computer for written assignments and tests.
  • Provide assistive technology such as speech to text, word prediction, spell checkers and grammar checkers.
  • Allow the use of graph paper for lining up math problems.
  • Read word problems aloud and assist with tricky wording.
  • Grant time and a half or double testing time.
  • Offer testing in a distraction-free location.
  • Avoid scantrons and allow the student to write directly on the test.
  • Allow the student to write directly on the test and avoid scantrons.
  • Simplify and reword questions on language loaded tests.
  • Provide short breaks when needed.
  • Permit the use of a calculator during testing.

What if the Student Has Never Been Tested and You Suspect a Learning Disability?

The first thing you can do is complete my FREE screener to see if there are notable symptoms of dyslexia.
dyslexia screener
I also offer a few other screeners at a small cost:  CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

The Free Good Sensory Learning Dyslexia Screener

I created the Good Sensory Learning Dyslexia Screener based on my comprehensive, doctoral training, an extensive literature review, and over 25 years working one to one with dyslexic learners. This 20-question screener offers a simple, Likert scale that addresses all the common symptoms. It is an informal evaluation and is best used to indicate whether formal testing should be pursued.  Click Here to download your free copy today.
executive functioning screener

What's Next?

Contact your school and ask them about their process for requesting the testing needed to evaluate for learning disabilities.  If the results from the screeners above indicate any issues, be sure to share this information with them.

Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.

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