ACCOMMODATIONS VS. MODIFICATIONS
By: Carmen Willings
Updated March 13, 2016
What is the difference between accommodations and modifications? A colleague of mine once shared an easy way to remember the difference: "a" comes before "m" in the alphabet. Likewise, accommodations happen before modifications. The following details what accommodations and modifications are:
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Due to the nationwide shortage of vision professionals, it can be challenging to locate personnel. Announce a job vacancy on the Job Exchange of Teaching Students with Visual Impairments, an online listing of jobs specific to the visual impairment field.
Accommodations do not reduce grade level standards but rather help provide access to the course content. They do not alter the amount or complexity of the information taught to the student. Accommodations are changes in the program from a way things are typically done so that a student with a disability can have equal opportunity to participate and allow the student to be successful. These changes do not substantially or fundamentally lower or alter the standards.
The purpose of accommodations is to decrease or to eliminate the interference from the disability. These accommodations would be tied to district and state testing. Accommodations must be part of the student's ongoing instructional program and not introduced for the first time during state-required assessments. When choosing accommodations, they must:
Select those that are appropriate and meet the students needs. Remember each state identifies acceptable or standard accommodations as well as conditional accommodations. Be sure to check with your state's allowable accommodations. Georgia, where I currently teach, has a list of standard accommodations on the Department of Education website. The following is a list of possible accommodations to include in the student's IEP to ensure the student with visual impairments can be successful in the school. Please remember that this should not serve as a checklist.The purpose of an accommodation is to level the playing field and NOT provide unfair advantage over others. Only identify accommodations that are required in order for the student to access his or her education. Provide teachers with a list of the student's Unique Visual Needs at the beginning of the school year and update should there be changes.
Changes in medium used:
Changes in the way students demonstrate learning
Changes in Setting:
Changes in the Setting: Environment
Modifications lower the learning expectations and should only be used if this is the only way for the student to be successful. Parents must understand if modifications to grade level standards are being made, their child may be at risk for not meeting graduation requirements. When choosing to modify the curriculum be sure to make decisions:
The following is a list of possible modifications to include in the student's IEP to ensure the student with visual impairments can be successful in the school. Select those that are appropriate and meet the students needs.
Students who plan to attend college will be required to take standardized tests as part of college admissions criteria. Accommodations for the ACT, PSAT, SAT and AP programs are overseen by Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD), which is part of the College Board, the major nonprofit organization that sponsors pre-college and college admissions tests. College Board requires that requests for accommodations be submitted well in advance. A student must have a documented disability and the student and the school must complete the SSD Student Eligibility Form that must be signed by the parents or guardian. College Board information is available online: www.collegeboard.com/ssd/student/index.html. Family Connect, AFB's website for parents of children with visual impairments, provides more information on these accommodations.