I've heard the terms "accommodations" and "modifications." What do these terms mean and what should I know about them?

The terms "accommodation" and "modification" (or you may see the term "adaptation") are used commonly in students' Individual Education Plans. These terms refer to the changes or alterations in how instruction is delivered, the ways in which students demonstrate their understanding and/or in what instructional goals or performance expectations the students are to achieve.

Factual Information

Some information on "accommodations" and "modifications":


Accommodations refer to the actual teaching supports a student may require to ensure equal access to the general curriculum. Accommodations are different ways for students to receive information and to demonstrate their learning. One way to think about accommodations is to think of them as the types of things that allow the student equal access to the curriculum. The changes do not alter or lower the expectations or content standards; they are adjustments to the instructional methods.

Examples of accommodations: Books that are recorded, additional time to complete tasks, oral tests, preferred seating, amplification systems, Braille writers, adapted keyboards, adapted writing utensils, providing space for movement or breaks, providing textbooks for use at home.

The Florida Department of Education hosts a website called Teaching Resources for Florida Exceptional Student Education. The website provides information on designing accommodations and an example of a lesson for middle school students and how five different types of accommodations can be made to the lesson.


Modifications refer to changes made to the instructional content or performance expectations for students who have disabilities from what is expected of general education students. Modifications are made when the expectations of the general curriculum do not match those stated in the student's IEP. In some cases modifications may be minimal. In other cases modifications may be quite complex. The extent to which the curriculum is modified is determined by the student's IEP.

Examples of modifications: The student is exempted from specific activities or skills, the student is included in the same activity but with different expectations (i.e. the student has a reduced number of weekly spelling words), the student is involved in the same unit/theme but with different tasks (i.e. the student works on single digit addition while other students work on double digit addition).

Classroom Activities

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Resources and Links

The following websites can help teachers think about their students and how they learn within specific content areas.