U.S. Department of Education: Promoting Educational Excellence for all Americans - Link to ED.gov Home Page
OSEP Ideas tha Work-U.S. Office of Special Education Programs
Ideas that work logo
  Home  Contact us
 Information About PDF

 Printer Friendly Version (pdf, 285K)

Adaptations & Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

by Jane Williams, Ph.D.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas


picture of a boy and girl – the girl is readingIn recent years, NICHCY has received an increasing number of requests for information on how to make adaptations and accommodations for students with disabilities in both general and special education classrooms. This information is needed in part because more and more students with disabilities are being educated in the general education environment along with their peers without disabilities, using the general curriculum—that is to say, the curriculum that is used with nondisabled students.

For many students with disabilities—and for many without—the key to success in the classroom lies in having appropriate adaptations, accommodations, and modifications made to the instruction and other classroom activities. Some adaptations are as simple as moving a distractible student to the front of the class or away from the pencil sharpener or the window. Other modifications may involve changing the way that material is presented or the way that students respond to show their learning.

Adaptations, accommodations, and modifications need to be individualized for students, based upon their needs and their personal learning styles and interests. This allows students to access the general curriculum and other learning materials and activities and to demonstrate what they have learned. As they experience success in the classroom, motivation and learning increase, and overall student outcomes improve.

It is not always obvious what adaptations, accommodations, or modifications would be beneficial for a particular student, or how changes to the curriculum, its presentation, the classroom setting, or student evaluation might be made. This Resources You Can Use is intended to help teachers and others find information that can guide them in making appropriate changes in the classroom based on what their students need. All of the resources are rich with suggestions and techniques that can help teachers and, ultimately, students. We have included a description of each resource so that readers can select the ones that are most relevant to their needs and their students. Contact information for book publishers is provided at the end of this document, so that readers can easily obtain those resources of interest to them.