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Common Accommodations List

John F. Ross C.V.I.
Glossary of Common Accommodations for Students with IEPs

Instructional Accommodations

Ability grouping
This student learns well when working with peers. Or this student needs a willing buddy to help with some of the demands of the classroom (organization, mobility, social skills). 

Assistive Technology – such as speech to text software
This student has a laptop paid for by the board with specialized software to help with specific learning issues. Please encourage the student to use this equipment.

Augmentative and alternative communications systems
This student requires non-computer based tech, like an amplification system, to help with comprehension. This accommodation is often required in the case of an Auditory Processing Disorder.

Computer options
This student may benefit from computer use for a variety of reasons. Keyboarding can be much easier for some students than handwriting. Assistive tech can help students to read, write, organize their thoughts, and more. Computers also allow for non-traditional, non-text based learning. Students could gain access by going to resource, or by using laptops and other communication technologies with teacher permission in the regular class.

Opportunities for enrichment
This student is gifted. Students receive structured choice so that they can go beyond curriculum expectations.

Duplicated notes
This student may have significant graphomotor or attentional issues. Students should have access to photocopied or digital notes. Students could receive fill-in-the-blanks notes instead of taking text-heavy notes. Students could photograph ad hoc board notes. Students should be taught strategies to help use the provided notes effectively (marginal note-taking, highlighting, adding diagrams, using symbols etc).

Extra time for processing
This student takes a little longer to process information, consolidate learning, and/or generate ideas. They will need pauses for reflection within the period.

Large-size fonts
This student has a visual impairment and will need enlarged and/or digital copies of texts. Confer with resource staff about specific requirements for each individual student.

More frequent breaks
Periodic breaks help this student to re-establish focus, regain mental energy or calm down if upset. A break could take place inside or outside of the classroom; breaks will be limited to a reasonable amount. Consequences for abusing this accommodation would be loss of the accommodation and/or disciplinary action through the office.

Organization coaching
Poor organization may manifest in many ways, including but not limited to … messy binders, missed due dates, poor formatting, rambling and incoherent ideas, etc. Therefore, this student needs to be explicitly taught organization skills. While we like to encourage independence, one strategy that is often helpful is to establish a handy means of communication between home and school while some key organization skills are still being mastered.

Reduced/uncluttered format
This student may have problems with visual perceptual skills, like scanning. Or this student may have issues with anxiety. Overly cluttered pages can make students feel overwhelmed. Students may require handouts that are clear and have a lot of white space. Reduced formats might include a modified version of the original resource created specifically for the individual student. 

Repetition of information
This student may have poor verbal comprehension or memory and will benefit from hearing important information repeatedly. Some students perceive rephrased information as new information, a whole new thing to remember. This can be overwhelming. It is best to keep the same wording when discussing ideas with students.

Rewording/rephrasing of information
This student’s learning may be idiosyncratic. He or she would likely benefit from individualized explanations. Cast about for different ways to say things until you see signs of understanding. Try to hook into pre-existing knowledge or understanding when explaining new things. For example, create analogues between content pieces and the student’s personal areas of interest or expertise.

Spatially cued formats
This student’s visual perceptual ability is stronger than his or her verbal ability. The format of a piece of text can give important informational cues. Students with the learning profile mentioned above may readily apprehend the meaning behind thoughtful formatting decisions, such as organizers that clearly show the length of response expected, new tabs and bullets to show when new ideas begin, etc.

Taped texts
This student requires an audio or electronic version (to be read by text to speech software) of all reading materials.

Visual cueing
This student’s visual perceptual ability is stronger than his or her verbal ability. Where possible, support verbal information with visual information. Demonstrate, illustrate, diagram. Use interesting visuals to exemplify a concept and cue memory. Create analogues using pictures.

Word-retrieval prompts
This student often experiences tip-of-the-tongue syndrome. Prompts can help this student to recall a specific word or set of words. Prompts can include picture clues, definitions, mnemonic devices, and word banks.

Regular check-ins
This student may not ask for help when needed because of shyness, over-confidence or deliberate work avoidance. Such students may be content to muddle through with only partial understanding. Or they may be certain that they get it, even when they don’t. They may be masters at looking busy while accomplishing little. Therefore, direct teacher intervention is needed periodically to ensure understanding and work completion.

Straightforward/succinct wording
Problems with attention or verbal ability make it hard for this student to follow long and complex strings of language. Give very succinct instructions. Create assignment sheets that use language which is simple and to the point.

Normalize struggle as part of learning
This student may struggle with anxiety and/or self esteem. Promote a growth mindset by framing struggle as a normal and a critical part of learning. Explicitly discuss how mistakes help us learn (Fail = First Attempt In Learning). Explain that students should view new tasks as a challenge and that, just like exercise makes you stronger, thinking hard through a challenge helps make you smarter.

Environmental Accommodations

Minimizing of background noise
Students with difficulties filtering and selecting auditory information need a minimum of background noise in order to focus on the learning task at hand.

Proximity to instructor
Seating the student in the front of the room or near the instructor can help the student to focus and stay on task. Proximity seating also helps students who have auditory processing disorders or impaired hearing.

Special lighting
This accommodation is typically used with students who have low vision. A desk-light or specific task lighting can help such students complete their work.

Strategic seating
Strategic seating may mean the student sits close to the board, away from a particular classmate, near to the door in case he or she needs to leave quickly, or any other seating arrangement made with the student’s needs in mind.

Use of headphones
Headphones are used during independent work time to allow the student to focus on his or her work and shut out the noise of other classmates. Some students listen to music, while others might listen to taped texts or audio books.

High structure
This student may have problems with organization or anxiety and, therefore, needs to have a very structured environment with predictable routines. They may need agendas and/or calendars posted in specific areas of the room. They may need clear instructions when transitioning from one activity to another. These strategies may be necessary for online environments, as well.

Assessment Accommodations

Accommodations marked EQAO are applied to EQAO math and the OSSLT, and are also applied to assessment done in the classroom by the classroom teacher.

Access to computer for written work
The student can use a computer in the classroom or resource room for tasks like tests, exams, and culminating tasks. Computer use would include access to assistive technologies, like text to speech or speech to text, where appropriate.

Allow for frequent breaks
During assessment tasks, students have the opportunity to take a break from the work and go for a short (often supervised) walk, or get up from the desk and stretch. This allows students to refocus on their work.

Extra time to respond (EQAO)
Extra time is defined as double time. If the test is designed to take 1 hour, the accommodated student would have up to 2 hours.

Read all written instructions
Students with poor reading comprehension benefit from having instructions read to them as they write tests, exams or complete culminating tasks. Instructions may be read by a classroom teacher, EA, or resource teacher.

Read all written instructions except for tests of reading (EQAO)
When reading comprehension is being assessed, reading written instructions is not permitted. When other skills are being assessed, such as grammar conventions, writing or mathematics, instructions may be read.

Reduce written output
Teachers may decrease the number of tasks when those tasks involve the same skills or learning goals. For example, if an assignment asks for three diary entries, the student may be able to just write two. Similarly, math tests frequently evaluate the same skill repeatedly across the test and at teacher discretion, the number of questions a student needs to answer to evaluate the skill may be reduced.

Scribe (EQAO)
A scribe writes down exactly what the student says in response to each question or task. During evaluations, scribes do not prompt or assist the student in any other way. Scribing helps students with strong verbal skills but weak written output to complete tasks and fully demonstrate their thinking.

Teacher approved reference sheets
Students with poor global memory or severe anxiety may forget a key bit of information in a testing situation and, consequently, be unable to show knowledge and understanding that they had but could not access without that small key. A teacher approved reference sheet would help such a student. What goes on these sheets is arrived at through negotiation between teachers and students (with teachers being the final arbiters). Teachers will sign sheets that they are satisfied with and that do not give an unfair advantage. Students will not be permitted to use reference sheets that have not been signed by teachers when they write tests and exams in the resource room.

Teacher approved word lists
Students with poor verbal memory, poor spelling, and more moderate anxiety may require less support than a full reference sheet. In such cases, a word list may suffice. A word list is a list of key vocabulary, minus the definitions.

Do not deduct marks for spelling in test except on tests of spelling
This student has extreme difficulty with spelling. Ultimately we will seek to improve spelling through the use of strategies and software like Dragon or Word Q. However, in the meantime, deducting marks for spelling in situations where the student has scant opportunity to edit would put the student at a great disadvantage. Therefore, only deduct marks for spelling if spelling is what the test is meant to evaluate.

Word-retrieval prompts
This student often experiences tip-of-the-tongue syndrome. Prompts can help this student to recall a specific word or set of words. Prompts can include picture clues, definitions, mnemonic devices, and/or word banks.

This student may have a conceptual understanding of math, but be unable to generate the right answer in time because math facts have never been memorized to the point of automaticity. Students with poor memory, processing speed and/or attention, may have great difficulty ever properly memorizing elementary calculation. Therefore, by providing a calculator, we can remove this hurdle in order to see what they do know.

Access to Kurzweil/Dragon/Word Q/Inspiration/etc for language-heavy assessments
If students make regular use of assistive technology for help with language, the specific programs that they use will be listed on their IEPs.

Reword rephrase
This student has a tendency to misread questions. Check for understanding and clarify as needed.

One to one project planning
This student may need help with process when working on a project. Teachers should confer with the student to help with task initiation, breaking tasks down into smaller steps, and/or prioritizing tasks for completion.

Gradual exposure approach to presentations
This student experiences considerable anxiety about speaking in front of the class. This may affect answering questions, reading aloud, and/or doing presentations. However, when we allow a student to always escape a feared activity, anxiety can actually get worse. Therefore, we want to find the zone where students are able to perform, but are challenged in a manageable degree. They should stick here until they no longer feel anxious, then take a small step closer to the feared activity. Negotiate with students to find this zone and always promote the idea of stepping forward. For example, with respect to presentations, a student may first present to the teacher alone, then to a teacher and a few friends, then to a teacher and a few nice students who are not personally known to the student, etc.