No matter what type of classroom you are in or whether you are a general education classroom teacher or special education teacher, most likely you will have students who require classroom accommodations. Accommodations can be confusing- are they required? What are accommodations? Are they the same as modifications? Keep reading to get all of these questions answered and more.
What are accommodations?
Accommodations are adaptations or changes in the classroom setting, how instruction is delivered or how students can demonstrate their knowledge that allow students with IEPs to access the curriculum the same as their peers who do not have a disability. It is important to remember that accommodations are different than modifications. Modifications change what the student actually learns. Accommodations just help students access the content, but does not change or alter it.
Students who have IEPs will have specific accommodations listed in their IEP, but it is also important to note that you can provide additional, reasonable accommodations to students who are struggling even if it is not on their IEP. At the beginning of the school year it is important to review a student’s IEP to make note of all accommodations so you can make plans to provide these specific supports.
When students have accommodations on their IEPs, these are required for teachers to implement. If an accommodation seems to not be helping a student, data needs to be collected so when there is the annual IEP meeting, the accommodations can be update to reflect what works for the student. IEP or CSE meetings can be stressful, but here are three ways to become more confident and start enjoying IEP meetings.
Types of Accommodations
There are many different types of accommodations, but there are four main categories they all can fall into. They are grouped into the way information is presented, how students can respond to demonstrate their understandings, the setting in which students learn and the timing or schedule.
Not all students require all accommodations. It is important to know which accommodations students require because some may require more time or prep work to implement. As some students are more successful in some areas of their day than others (ex. reading is a challenge but math is not), some accommodations are only required during specific blocks of the day. Students should be active in their educational programming as much as possible. So it is important to note how the accommodations are helping or hurting them and to be reflective and flexible as need be.
Accommodations are decided during an IEP meeting with the classroom teachers, special education teachers, and any other related service provides.
Examples of Classroom Accommodations
Instructional accommodations can look different from students to student as well as classroom to classroom. Here are some examples you may use in your classroom. Remember, this is not an all encompassing list, and students may require multiple accommodations in order to be successful.
If a student requires information to be presented differently, some accommodations may look like providing large print, including a graphic organizer or visual cues, repeat of directions or restating and clarifying directions. It can also look like providing oral directions in addition to written or verbal prompts within a lesson. It could even look like providing a simple checklist of the steps a student needs to take to complete a task.
If a student requires various ways to respond to demonstrate what they know, it could look like allowing a student to use a speech-to-text software or allowing them to type their answers instead of write them. The use of a scribe, or an adult writing what a student says could be another way to provide this type of accommodation.
If a student requires accommodations within the setting, it could look like providing preferential seating (possibly with a study carrel or closer to the front of the room), providing small group instruction or taking a test in a small group. It could also look like taking tests in a separate location, having noise canceling headphones, specific seating, sensory items provided, or special lighting.
If a student requires a schedule or timing accommodation, it could look like having extra time to complete a task or test, frequent short breaks, breaking an assignment into smaller parts, or shorter testing sessions.
Why are accommodations important?
Accommodations are important because they level the playing field. Instead of students with disabilities always starting behind due to barriers with their disability, by providing accommodations, students with disabilities are then able to start at the same starting line as their typically developing peers.
Remember, it is important to have all teachers who work with a student know and understand a their accommodations. Therefore, providing an IEP snapshot is a perfect way to be sure they are being met. By having a one page document, it summarizes the important aspects of a students IEP while allowing the teachers to prepare in advance. To get your own IEP snapshot, click here. This is one of the best ways to be sure a student’s accommodations are being implemented across their school day.