dos and donts on a file drawerAn accommodation is a change in the way content is taught that makes it more accessible to a student. Accommodations do not alter the content of assignments, give students an unfair advantage or, in the case of assessments, change what the test measures. Accommodations do make it possible for students with disabilities to show what they know without being impeded by their disability.

Here are some examples of possible accommodations (not an exhaustive list!) for a Committee on Special Education to consider, broken into six categories from The National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).


Provide on audio tape

Provide in large print


Provide preferential seating

Provide a space with minimal distractions


Allow for verbal responses

Permit responses to be given via computer

Test Scheduling:

Allow subtests to be taken in a different order

Administer a test at a specific time of day


Allow frequent breaks

Extend allotted time for a test


Provide special test preparation

Provide on-task/focusing prompts

So here are your Accommodation DOs and DON’Ts:


  • Make decisions about accommodations based on a student’s individualized needs in each academic content area
  • Select accommodations that mitigate the effect of the disability on accessing instruction and demonstrating learning
  • Document instructional and assessment accommodations on the IEP and routinely provide opportunities to use those accommodations in classroom instruction
  • Be specific about the “Where, When, Who, and How” of providing accommodations
  • Evaluate accommodations used by the student and include the student in that evaluation
  • Get input about accommodations from teachers, parents, and students and use that information when making decision at IEP team meetings


  • Make accommodations decisions based on whatever is easiest to do
  • Select accommodations unrelated to documented student learning needs or that are intended to give students an unfair advantage
  • Use accommodations that have not been documented on the IEP
  • Indicate accommodations will be provided “as appropriate” or “as necessary”
  • Assume the same accommodations are appropriate year after year
  • Assume certain accommodations like as extra time are appropriate for every student in every content area
  • Check every accommodation possible on a checklist simply to be “safe.”
  • Make decisions about instructional accommodations without input from the student, the parents, and the teacher(s)