Accommodations for Special Education Students

Instructor: Elizabeth Kroll

Elizabeth has taught English and has a master's degree in curriculum and instruction.

Explore what accommodations for special education students are, how they are determined, and how they are implemented. Learn how accommodations differ from modification.

Accommodations for Special Education Students

What Are Accommodations?


To understand what accommodations are, you might want to think about a goal. For example, let's say you are given the task of creating a vegetable garden. Your environment, tools, knowledge, time spent, and organization differ tremendously from person to person. Your goal is the same but the manner in which the garden is created looks much different.

Some individuals can work continuously for hours to accomplish the task, while others might need to break up the time or enlist help. Whether the garden takes a day, week, or month to create or whether a person seeks help from equipment or experts, the goal is still achieved--we have tasty vegetables for our meal. Accommodations for special education students are basically the same. The end goal or objective for learning is the same; however, special aids help a student reach the objectives.

Special Education Students

Before learning about accommodations, it is important to understand which students we are referring to in order to fully understand the scope of this group of students.

Special Education students encompass a wide variety of students. Special education students include: students with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, emotional or behavior disorders, as well as students with developmental disabilities.

Accommodations can be articulated through Individual Education Plans (IEP) or 504 plans. These plans, while they both include accommodations, are vastly different. An IEP is created for students who require special education services, while students with a 504 may not always require special education services. IEPs are entrusted to the Department of Education, while the 504 is handled by the Office for Civil Rights.


To fully master the difference, let's consider our example again. Many people create gardens in a myriad of ways. An elderly couple living in the desert might use hydroponics and need this type of design plan. A couple living on a farm in the Midwest might use a traditional backyard garden plan. The term gardener refers to all of them, yet their plans are different. The ways of monitoring or tending to the garden might look different.

Types of Accommodations

Accommodations can take many forms. Four types of accommodations include:


This type includes the time allotted or the duration of lessons to fulfill the objective or goal.

For example, a teacher might allow a student a few extra days or an hour on an assignment. It is often referred to as extended time.


The environment can also be considered an accommodation. Use of peer tutoring, one-on-one instruction, small groups, or cooperative learning can be considered an accommodation.


Materials can also be used to provide accommodations. For example a student might require a braille textbook, large print, or audio version. Due to increasing technology, Adaptive and Assistive Technology devices and software have provided students with an arsenal of materials. Some examples include video tutorials, programs that have embedded tools to help students succeed using general curriculum, or hearing or visual technologies.


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