Accommodations are supports which students with disabilities qualify for, to access the general curriculum. Many students with disabilities benefit from accommodations in the classroom and on assessments. They determine how a student receives information, learns and expresses their understanding.
Some examples of accommodations are:
- Preferential seating – being seated in a place that is comfortable and accessible
- Allowing breaks – a student may be permitted to take breaks during the class or may be entitled to move around the classroom when needed without disrupting the lesson
- Use of a text-to-speech feature that reads out the text to the student or listening to an audio version of the text
- Receiving a copy of notes instead of having to write
- Use of a calculator in math
- Keep a visual schedule in front of the student
- Breaking down the tasks or assignments into more manageable steps, provision of graphic organisers
- Allow your students to type instead of writing
- Use of spell check while writing or not being marked for incorrect spelling
- Taking an assessment in a quieter small group setting
- Allow the students to take extra time on assessments
- Oral instead of written assessments
- Use of a scribe during tests
The Rights to Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016 recommends provisions toward inclusive education including, “suitable modifications in the curriculum and examination system to meet the needs of students with disabilities such as extra time for completion of the examination paper, the facility of scribe or amanuensis, exemption from second and third language courses”.
Given these provisions, certain Indian education boards, including the CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education), also provide accommodations to students with disabilities. These include (are not limited to), extra time on exams, provision of a scribe/reader/prompter, flexibility in choosing subjects, exemption from a third language, alternate or separate questions, use of a magnifier etc. Here is a circular from the CBSE detailing the accommodations for grade 10 and 12 board examinations.
Modifications are changes made in what or how much a student is taught. While accommodations are for the same grade-level content, modifications may include making changes in the content, in terms of complexity, amount, and pace. Modifications could also apply to class assignments as well as final assessments. Modifications are made in collaboration with the special educator working with the student.
Some examples of modifications:
- Lesser number of questions/problems
- Different complexity level
- Lesser number of steps in a problem
- Shorter length of writing assignments
- Eliminating certain topics, i.e. reducing the content
Most students receiving special education support in mainstream schools may only require accommodations without needing modifications. The intention should be to assist the student in accessing the same curriculum in terms of amount and complexity, however, with support and provisions that they require. In cases where the student has more intensive needs or where the curriculum is hindering their learning and development, modifications may be considered.