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Title | Defining AT | Defining IT | Defining AET | AT Categories | AT Checklist | AT Accommodations | Screen Readers | Example Materials

Technology Accommodations

IDEA law requires that appropriate accommodations be made in instruction and assessment for all students with disabilities, and that these accommodations be indicated on the students' IEP.


An accommodation is a change in how an assessment or instruction is given, but does not indicate a change in what is being measured or a change in the material.  The accommodation should be to allow a student to participate that would otherwise not be able to.  The accommodations allow the student the capability to demonstrate what they know or can do. The use of accommodations with a special needs student does not change the content of the instruction, the skill being learned, or the material being assessed.  An example of an accommodation could include the use of a calculator for basic computation or giving the student extended time on a test.  This is very different from a modification of the educational situation. A modification for a student actually changes the content, level, skill, or changes the standard that is being taught or tested.  Modifications are appropriate for students whose cognitive ability does not permit the learning of the same content or level of skill.

While there can an almost infinite number of accommodations they basically break down into five categories

  1. Instructional methods and materials
  2. Assignments and classroom assessments
  3. Time demands and scheduling
  4. Learning environment
  5. Use of special communication systems

Technology Accommodations

The following is a listing of areas, problems, and some technology based accommodation methods that could be used in a classroom.  


1. Student can’t identify main ideas or important points.

bulletUse a highlighter to mark important points of the text to draw attention. Tell the student to read these points first.
bulletUse hands-on activities, pictures, or diagrams to provide alternate ways of learning abstract concepts or complex information. Such as concept maps.
bulletLet the student use sticky notes or an erasable highlighter to mark key points in the textbook.

2. Student can understand the information but can’t read the required materials.

bulletProvide an audio version of the material. Use books-on-tape or have an assistant, volunteer, or other student make a recording.
bulletUse a videotape or movie that presents the same information.
bulletUse assistive technology to transfer printed words to speech.

3. Student is blind or visually impaired.

bulletProvide books-on-tape or large print versions of text.
bulletProvide books and other instructional materials in braille.
bulletObtain copies of class handouts and materials with key information in an embossed format.
bulletLet the student use a special tilt-top desk or book stand to hold materials for easier reading.
bulletLet the student use specialized equipment, such as an video enhancer, magnifying glass, tape recorder, stylus and slate, or Braille writer.
bulletUse assistive technology to transfer printed words to speech.

4. Student is deaf or hard-of-hearing.

bulletUse visual information (words, charts, graphics) to reinforce what is presented orally.
bulletUse  captions with any video.

5. Student has difficulty with most lessons.

5a. Student needs help to get ready for the lesson

bulletUse advance organizers, such as Inspiration concept maps, to alert students to what will be included and expected from the lesson or discussion.

5b. Student needs help during the lesson.

bulletProvide oral and visual clues during lecture or discussion about what is important to include in notes. Write important ideas on the board or chart paper. Use different color chalk or markers for emphasis or coding.
bulletProvide structured organizers for note taking, such as a copy of overheads, outline of lecture, or pre-designed graphic organizers.
bulletUse NCR, carbon paper, or photocopying for peers to take notes that can be shared.
bulletLet the student use a tape recorder to record class lectures and discussions.

6. Student has difficulty with mathematical concepts and processes.

bulletLet the student use concrete materials and manipulatives to explore and learn about mathematical concepts.
bulletUse computer-based models to represent mathematical concepts.
bulletLet the student practice skills using computer-based instruction.
bulletLet the student use a calculator for routine computation tasks.
bulletColor-code or highlight key words in word problems.
bulletLet the student use a flowchart or flowchart software to plan strategies for problem solving.


1. Student has difficulty following instructions.

1a. Student needs help to get ready for the instructions.

bulletUse a prearranged signal or tone to gain attention before giving directions.

1b. Student needs help following directions.

bulletUse task analysis cards to provide graphic directions with written directions.

2. Student has difficulty completing assignments.

bulletTeach the student to maintain a digital calendar of tasks and assignments.
bulletUse a kitchen timer to define work times.
bulletUse a website to communicate homework assignments and expectations to parents so they can help, if needed.

3. Student gets confused by complex materials.

bulletUse different kinds of paper for different assignments, such as graph paper to write computation problems or paper with midlines for taking notes.
bulletUse color-coding to help students identify tasks, meanings, or expectations.

4. Student needs help organizing or keeping track of materials.

bulletLet the student use a special folder or binder to keep materials organized. Use dividers or folders to keep subjects organized and use color-coding by unit or subject.
bulletGive the student a compartmentalized container for classroom materials, tools, and supplies.
bulletLet the student use physical supports such as bookends, plastic containers to keep supplies, or bags or folders for work materials.

5. Student has limited writing abilities.

5a. Student has difficulty with handwriting.

bulletCreate a writing paper template on a word processor that had an arrow or other mark on the upper left side of the paper to help the student remember where to start writing
bulletPlace a colored dot on the upper left side of the paper to help student remember where to start writing.
bulletLet the student use a word-processor or typewriter.
bulletLet the student create an audio or video recording of response to classroom assignment.
bulletLet the student use speech-to-text (voice recognition) software to dictate their work.
bulletLet the student use adaptive devices: pencil grips or special pen or pencil holders, erasable pens, special paper with raised or color-coded line indicators.

5b. Student has problems with expressive language.

bulletLet the student use a thesaurus (book or computer-based) to find words to write or say.
bulletLet the student use special word processing software that assists and anticipates what the student is trying to write.
bulletGive the student a structured outline, template, or graphic organizer to help plan writing or oral presentations.
bulletLet the student use word processing or graphics software to plan ideas before writing.

5c. Student has problems with grammar or spelling.

bulletLet the student use a spelling dictionary or electronic spelling aid.
bulletLet the student use the spell-check or grammar-check utility in word processing software.
bulletLet the student use a screen reader to review their writing aloud. 

6. Student has difficulty taking tests.

6a. Change the presentation format.

bulletLet the student use the computer to read the test items aloud as he or she works on it.
bulletProvide copies of the tests on audio tape, in braille, or large print format (change the font size/style).
bulletLet the student use assistive technology such as magnification or amplification, if needed.
bulletUnderline or highlight important words in the directions or test items.

6b. Change the response mode.

bulletLet the student respond orally, dictate to an aide, or tape record for later review.
bulletLet the student use a typewriter or word processor to write answers to the test items.
bulletLet the student use webs, diagrams, or charts and outlines to plan for or respond to open-ended or essay questions.

6c. Change the test procedures.

bulletLet the student use references such as an electronic spelling dictionary.
bulletIn math, let the student use a calculator to recheck or complete computations.

These have been just a few accommodations where technology can be used with students to allow them to participate with the same material and at the same level as other students.

Classroom Designs

Adapted mostly from "Accommodations: Assisting Students with Disabilities -- A Guide for Educators," 1999 by the Florida Department of Education

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Copyright 2006 Drs.Cavanaugh  Last modified: March 06, 2008