Accommodation vs. Modification: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 The Basics
  • 0:40 Accommodation vs. Modification
  • 1:57 Similarities
  • 2:48 Accommodation Examples
  • 3:47 Modification Examples
  • 4:43 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jesse Richter

Jesse holds two masters, a doctorate and has 15 years of academic experience in areas of education, linguistics, business and science across five continents.

This lesson discusses the instructional practices of accommodation and modification within the context of Section 504 Plans and Individualized Education Programs. Additionally, several examples of each practice are provided.

The Basics

In schools throughout the United States, many students are identified as having special needs. In most cases, these students are provided with a Section 504 Plan and/or Individualized Education Program. A Section 504 Plan grants students the right to have accommodations, while an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) grants students the right to have modifications. Although these terms are generally recognized as common, everyday vocabulary, they have technical meanings in the domain of education. Let us continue by taking a look at the definitions and implications of both terms.

Accommodation vs. Modifications

Accommodation is the teaching practice that considers how a student is presented with materials in order to facilitate academic progress. Accommodations are provided to students with a Section 504 Plan and focus on methods of instruction rather than the content itself. Students with accommodations are expected to learn the same material and to the same level of comprehension as general population students.

Since curricular material is not altered, any associated grading rubrics should also remain unaltered. Students who are entitled to accommodations are allowed to achieve learning objectives in different ways. Accommodations are more commonly required than modifications.

Modification is the teaching practice that considers what a student is exposed to in terms of academic material and expected learning outcomes. Modifications are provided to students with an Individualized Education Program and focus on the alteration of the structure of curricular materials. Students with modifications are not expected to reach the same levels of comprehension of other students.

Since curricular materials are altered, any associated grading rubrics must also be altered accordingly. Students who are entitled to modifications are allowed to achieve different learning objectives. Modifications are less commonly required than accommodations.


Teaching practices for both accommodation and modification are similar in many ways. In fact, some students may be entitled to both because various disabilities can be related and may co-exist. For instance, a student who was in a car accident may suffer both brain damage and a physical disability, such as a broken limb, which could require both accommodation and modification.

Both teaching practices:

  • Are initiated by parents, teachers, support staff, and/or administrators
  • Are based on recommendations by professionals such as psychologists, pathologists, or other medical professionals
  • Are intended to be implemented with students who have diagnosed learning or physical disabilities
  • Aim to create a classroom environment where students experiencing different types of disabilities are able to progress according to their unique situations

Accommodation Examples

Examples of accommodations that might be used in the classroom include:

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