Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

Learning Differences: Accommodations, Modifications, Technologies

Differences Between Modifications & Accommodations

Accommodations are a change in environment, equipment, presentation of information that allows a student access to content to complete an assignment, task, or assessment. They are not a change in curriculum. The student is completing the same course of study and is graded on the same scale as other students without learning disabilities.

Examples: seating, note-taker, sign language, alternative keyboards; text-to-speech devices, audio books, extended time, larger paper

Modifications change the curriculum and what is being tested or assessed.  These students are not accountable for the same material as students without learning challenges.

Examples: assignments reduced in number, alternative simplified resources

Washington University

LD Library Services

      So, now how can the school library and librarian provide services to this population and make the resources as valuable, accessible, and useful to them as to any other student?

      These students learn differently, so they need to be taught differently. Most of them have a combination of learning differences, and can be overwhelmed by the typical school library or research assignment--its large selection of books, journals, and magazines, its lack of material in an appropriate format, a librarian or library clerk who does not know how to provide more appropriate material, and a library website that is overwhelming and laborious to navigate.  There are also certain modifications in the way a teacher-librarian imparts information and ideas.

      Utilization of multisensory methods and resources is most important. Here are some suggestions that will be covered more indepth on this page and the following page:

  • Accommodations & Modifications
  • Audiobooks & eAudiobooks--free and subscription services
  • Assistive technologies
  • Applications, Software, & Freeware
  • Website Design

Teaching Accommodations

When working with students with learning differences the following strategies are used by LD teachers--yet these teaching accommodations will benefit all classrooms.

Teaching Strategies

  • Structured environment, reduced noise and distractions
  • Predictable routine--warm-up, "to do," copy homework from board
    • Introduce/preview information in the same manner each new topic
    • Use KEYWORDS in lecturing--"first, second," "to summarize," main point, supporting point, concluding point
  • Reduce verbal language while teaching--the most difficult!
    • Use a slower rate of speech. Really.
    • Enunciate clearly, without exaggeration
    • Use body movements and natural gestures
    • Integrate "wait time" into question asking and presentation of information
  • Present information in small chunks
    • Allow time for processing
    • Check for comprehension
    • Review the next day
  • Allow for breaks--stretching, change topic for 2 minutes
  • For students needing it (IEPs)--extra time, reader, note-takers, scribe
  • Ask for feedback
    • Too fast? Too slow?
    • Ask each student to anonymously write down/email what they thought the point of the lesson was
      • then adjust accordingly!
  • Provide concrete examples of good essays, good iMovies, good Powerpoints, good outlines, good notecards
  • Teach direct concepts and try not to rely on implication or deduction without explaining it
  • Teach direct behaviors wanted
    • "Stop talking," "Close your laptops," "Take out your note cards," "Log on to NoodleBib"
    • Do not start with "it would be a good idea...," or "you might want to...," or "somebody is talking..."
  • Avoid sarcasm and explain metaphorical language--the abstract is impossible for some
  • Encourage and reward students who come for extra help or further clarification
  • Actively teach note-taking & organizational skills
    • Outline on board, verbalize outline, copy outline--check for copy accuracy
      • Insert information during lecture or film
      • Ask for summary of what the outline means at end of period
    • Repeat (for weeks) until you have them create their own outline
      • Check for their accuracy
  • VARK Present information in as many modalities as possible

Reading Deficits

Helpful Interventions





  • Repeated practice, matching consonants and vowels, breaking apart words
  • Using images to connect syllables, segmenting, previewing words
  • World wall, flashcards, picture dictionary, word bank, glossary
  • Reading guides, organizers, anticipation guides, purpose for reading
  • Reader's Theatre!
  • Plays!

Writing Deficits

Helpful Interventions




Intimidated by Task

  • Computer use
  • Highlighter tracing
  • Finger strengthening exercises, clay, pencil grips, tactile (shaving cream/sandpaper)
  • Make word puzzles, draw shape around word to show structure
  • Use templates, graphic organizers, parts of speech
  • Encouragement! Mentor texts

Math Deficits

Helpful Interventions

Copying and Organizing

Recalling Facts

Language-based issues

Visualizing Word Problems

  • Note organizers, example hand-outs with fill-in-the-blanks, study guides, cheat sheets
  • Manipulatives, larger pieces of paper, color coding
  • Open note tests, mnemonic devices for formulas, songs, fact wall, math journals
  • Word wall, vocabulary review, repetition, flow charts for word problems, pre-checkm synonyms
  • Act it out, draw images, real life situations


Memory Deficits

Helpful Interventions


Long Term Memory

Connecting New Information to Previous Instruction


  • Visual cues, mind maps, graphic organizers, mnemonics, chunking information, memory games, repetition, rehearsals, association with color or movements
  • Sensory experiences, kinesthetics (throwing ball around), emotional or personal connections, hands-on activities, experiments
  • Make it personal or exciting (special day)
  • "Ticket to Leave" - recall a fact from the day
  • Practice tests, warm-up activities, word banks
  • Do not assume previous day's material is recalled


Emotional Deficits

Helpful Interventions

Easily Overwhelmed

Learned Helplessness

Fears "looking stupid"

  • Plan breaks during the day, give student a token to use when a break is needed
  • Deep breaths, mindfulness, doodle-time, stress ball, white noise
  • Provide predictability, consistency, agenda, prioritize
  • Break big projects into smaller manageable parts, identify key parts
  • Set students up for success -- check work before it is required, call when you know they have the right answer
  • Give guidance and then come back and check
  • Guided independence, fading assistance over time
  • Class jobs
  • Set safe class rules, positive environment, encourage positive reinforcement from peers


AD/HD Inattention Helpful Interventions

Difficulty sustaining attention & finishing tasks

Tendency to drift off...

Has trouble keeping track of time

Pays attention to everything around the classroom

  • Verbal cues: "This is important, make sure you're listening" "The is key" with voice, face, inflection
  • Seat student near front of class
  • Circulate the classroom & give gentle reminders, taps, agreed-upon signals to re-focus
  • Emphasize positive
  • Mix it up
  • Set goals, prioritize, time frames, use a timer or clock, visual clock countdown
  • Seat away from windows, de-clutter room and walls


Hyperactivity Helpful Interventions

Fidgets and squirms

Trouble sitting still, even for a short period of time

  • Squishy ball, sensory chair, weighted vest,
  • Brain break, jumping jacks, stretches, exercises
  • Teacher assistant to run errands, pass out papers
  • Self-check monitoring to target behaviors from collaboratively created checklist
  • Trampolines


Impulsivity Helpful Interventions

Tends to talk out-of-turn, blurts out answers

Trouble waiting in line

Acts before thinking

Inserts self into games others are playing


  • Talking stone/stick/ball for class
  • Give those students "3" tokens that will excuse their talking out of turn 3 times (tokens are a visual reminder)
  • Tape on the floor for lines, line buddy
  • Role-playing, social stories
  • Identify behaviors with students and have self-checklist
  • Suggest alternatives


Organizational Deficits Helpful Interventions

Lacks internal framework to connect new information

Difficulty making "mental shifts"

Easily overwhelmed with multiple tasks or long-term projects

  • Graphic organizers, objectives on board, daily agenda
  • Predictable routines, use anticipatory language for transitions
  • Mental preparation for the next activity
  • Verbal cues
  • Set goals, prioritize tasks, break into small parts
  • Clear benchmarks
  • Oral and written directions


Social Judgement Deficits Helpful Interventions

Immature moral judgements

Resorts to regressive behavior when stressed

Difficulty understanding cause-and-effect


  • Role-play, one-on-one discussions, language, for alternative responses and actions
  • Model appropriate words, correct behaviors, and reinforce students who are kind, respectful, polite
  • Time-outs very sparingly
  • Bibliotherapy


Concordian International School Inclusion Policy

Assistive Technologies

Universal Design for Learning

Watch the video from CAST (Center for Applied Special Technology) on UDL Principles. UDL is an educational approach with three primary principles:

  • Mutiple means of representation (how material is presented)
  • Multiple means of action and expression (how students demonstrate knowledge)
  • Multilple means of engagement (how to tap into learners' interests, offer appropriate challenges, increase motivation)

Video: UDL Guidelines Structure

UDL Guidelines



UDL Guidelines