What are the teacher’s responsibilities for students with disabilities who use accommodations?

Page 9: Tips for Teachers

acc_page09_01Accommodations allow students with disabilities to learn and demonstrate the knowledge required by grade-level standards. When accommodations are documented on a student’s IEP, teachers are required to provide them. Therefore, it is important for teachers to plan for and use identified accommodations during instruction and testing. To maximize the student’s success with accommodations, teachers can:

Become familiar with each student’s needs:


  • Providing the same accommodation to all students with disabilities because of convenience.
  • Disregarding an accommodation because only one or a few students need it.
  • Thinking that only the special education teacher provides accommodations.

  • Know the student’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Review the student’s IEP and other cumulative records.
  • Learn about each student’s equipment needs (e.g., software, hardware).
  • Recognize that, though some accommodations will be simple to implement in the classroom, others will be more difficult to implement or might require more time to learn how to effectively use.
  • Allow the student time to practice using accommodations with content that comes more readily to them so they are not struggling with new content and new accommodations at the same time.
  • Be aware that students using accommodations might require more or less time to complete instructional tasks.
  • Understand how the classroom environment can affect the student’s successful use of his or her accommodations.
  • Be aware of how the student perceives the recommended accommodations (e.g., does your student think his accommodation is useful, embarrassing?).
  • Hold high expectations for the student.
  • Monitor the student’s progress regularly.

Arrange the classroom environment:

  • Create seating arrangements that support the use of hardware without excluding the student from the class. The proper use of many devices requires proximity to an electrical outlet or additional space. However, students should not be isolated—for example, in the back of the classroom—solely for the purpose of an outlet.
  • Set aside space for equipment when it is not in use. Placing the equipment in a safe location protects it from damage.

Be knowledgeable about specialized equipment:

  • acc_page09_02Be sure the audio option is enabled on computers for students who are using the synthesized voice feature. Often, computers in classrooms, libraries, or labs have the audio option disabled to cut down on noise and limit distractions.
  • Supply headphones for students to use. Using a synthesized voice feature without headphones can distract others.
  • Be sure the settings on the computer or the text reader (e.g., font size, boldface, speed of braille refreshable text) match the needs of each student. Not having these pre-set can waste valuable classroom time.
  • Obtain appropriate devices (e.g., CDs or USB drives) for saving and transporting data files. Students may need to access the files away from the classroom or on different equipment, for example a personal laptop.

Stay up to date:

  • Attend trainings about accommodations to understand specific policies and guidelines for your state.
  • Collaborate and communicate with knowledgeable individuals (e.g., special education teachers, parents, students).
  • Read professional journals.
  • View reputable Websites:
    • Professional organizations (e.g., National Center for Education Outcomes at nceo.info)
    • Advocacy groups (e.g., National Center for Learning Disabilities at ncld.org)

Prepare for testing:

  • acc_page09_03Be familiar with the assessment accommodations allowed in your state.
  • Provide only the testing accommodations listed on the student’s IEP.
  • Ensure that the student uses and is comfortable with the accommodations prior to testing.

With careful planning and consideration, teachers can provide accommodations to their students effectively and efficiently. With individualized accommodations in place, these students are more likely to be successful in classroom and testing situations.

Revisiting Our Challenge

Once Ms. Hamadi became aware of Sean’s IEP accommodations, and began to provide them, Sean’s performance improved. Ms. Hamadi recognizes the importance of the accommodations for Sean and better understands that fair doesn’t always mean that students get exactly the same thing. Rather, it means that students should get what they need to be successful in the classroom. And sometimes, for students with disabilities like Sean, this includes accommodations.

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