Accommodations and Instructional Strategies

Academic accommodations may be described as strategies to effectively level the playing field for students with disabilities. These compensatory techniques are not designed to give students with disabilities an advantage over their peers. Educational accommodations ensure that students with disabilities have equal access to information and are given an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of a subject. The same accommodation may be used by individuals with different disabilities, and two individuals with the same disability may use different accommodations. The emphasis is not placed on consistency of accommodation, but rather on meeting the documented need for individual accommodation.

Common Accommodations & Instructional Strategies by Disability

Acquired Brain Injury

Accommodations

  • Exam divided into small units to allow for fatigue
  • Extended time on exams
  • Frequent breaks
  • Give directions in a step by step written format
  • Exams administered in a non-distracting environment
  • Use of a note taker if documented
  • Priority registration
  • Extended time to complete course
  • Tape recorded lectures
  • Accommodated tutoring

Instructional Strategies

  • Provide repetition and consistency
  • Demonstrate new tasks, provide examples to illustrate ideas and concepts
  • Provide rest breaks due to student's reduced stamina
  • Provide mnemonic memory devices when appropriate
  • Reduce stressful class situations due to student’s sensitivity to stress
  • Allow for longer response time
  • Remember to praise

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Accommodations

  • Seating in front of class
  • Minimizing of distractions by seating away from doors and windows
  • Extended time to complete exams
  • Administration of exams in a non-distracting environment
  • Taped lectures
  • In-class note taker
  • Medication prescribed by physician
  • Class scheduling assistance

Instructional Strategies

  • Provide opportunity for student to work standing up or pacing
  • Arrange frequent breaks
  • Ignore inappropriate interruptions
  • Provide outline for lectures
  • Highlight key concepts
  • Give directions in writing
  • Utilize study guides for exams
  • Use a multisensory teaching approach
  • Extend time for exams and assignments
  • Provide detailed class syllabus

Communication and Language Disabilities

Accommodations

  • Augmentative communication device (synthesized speech, print output, etc.)
  • Course modifications, such as one-to-one presentations and the use of a computer with a voice synthesizer

Instructional Strategies

  • Permit students the time they require to express themselves, without unsolicited aid in filling the gaps in their speech
  • Be patient and take the time to communicate effectively. Ask students to repeat or clarify if you do not understand their speech
  • Permit students to be silent in class unless speech is a required course competency appropriate for particular students

Deaf and Hard of Hearing

Accommodations

  • Note takers to allow for full attention to speaker or interpreter
  • Use of an interpreter if appropriate
  • Use of Real-time Reporting if appropriate
  • Use of an amplification system if appropriate
  • Front row seating to maximize the intake of visual cues
  • Appropriate lighting even during the use of visual aids so the faculty member or interpreter can be seen at all times
  • Exams with extended time if a documented accommodation

Instructional Strategies

  • Deliver lectures slowly and clearly. Be sure your mouth is not covered by your hand or book. Repeat words if necessary
  • Face the class and not the chalkboard. Avoid standing behind the student with a hearing impairment, or walking back and forth in front of the class
  • Write important material on the chalkboard or overhead transparency
  • Hand out typed or printed notes
  • Use closed captioned videos and movies. If they are not used, provide a written explanation of either the video tape, movie, use an interpreter, or provide a demonstration
  • Realize that a beard or mustache may hinder the comprehension of someone who reads lips
  • Give assignments in written form
  • Repeat classmates’ comments and questions
  • Give the student adequate time to respond to questions to allow the student with a hearing impairment to participate in the class
  • Check privately with the student to determine whether he or she feels comfortable speaking in class
  • Be patient and take the time to communicate effectively

Learning Disabilities

Accommodations

  • Priority registration
  • Extended time to complete course
  • Textbooks in alternate format
  • Scan/read equipment
  • In-class note takers (use note takers notebook)
  • Tape recorded lectures
  • Copy of faculty member’s notes
  • Real-time reporting
  • Use of transcriber for written assignments
  • Use of a lap top computer
  • Use of an electronic spell checker
  • Extended time to complete in-class written assignments
  • Use of a basic, four-function calculator in class
  • Tests administered in a non-distracting environment
  • Extended time on exams
  • Proctored exams (oral responses, responses transcribed, audiotaped responses)
  • Accommodated tutoring

Instructional Strategies

  • Choose textbook that comes with a study guide
  • Double-space all material
  • Provide handouts in high contrast form
  • Make syllabus available prior to first class to allow students to prepare early
  • Use multimedia techniques in the lecture
  • Provide lecture outlines, teach definitions and terms, emphasize key points
  • Provide clear deadlines
  • Allow alternative formats for class assignments (oral presentation, visual displays, etc.)
  • Read aloud material that is written on the chalkboard, handouts, or transparencies
  • Minimize penalties for misspellings, incorrect punctuation, and poor grammar unless the object of the assignment is to demonstrate written skills
  • Critique early draft of the paper
  • Examine test for the types of errors (consider partial credit, student conference, tutor conference, etc.)
  • Provide alternatives to computer scored answer sheets (allow student to mark on the test)
  • Consider alternative test design (multiple choice and matching designs can be confusing to a student with perceptual impairments)
  • Consider alternative or supplementary assignments to evaluate a student’s mastery of the course material
  • Consider course substitution when doing so would not substantially change an essential element of the curriculum

Mobility Disabilities

Accommodations

  • Use of a note taker, tape recorder, etc.
  • Extended time for exams
  • Proctored exams (oral responses, audiotaped, videotaped, transcriber)
  • Extended time for assignments due to slow writing speed or medical concerns
  • Adjustable tables, lab benches, etc.
  • Special parking decals
  • Accessible classes, buildings, field trips, etc.
  • Preferred class seating
  • Location of needed equipment and supplies in close proximity to the student
  • Priority registration and pre-registration
  • Consideration of classes and locations when scheduling classes

Instructional Strategies

  • Give consideration to students with mobility impairments if they are late to classes, especially in inclement weather
  • Aid in manipulating tools, lab equipment, etc.
  • Substitute non-corrosive chemicals in laboratory classes
  • Consider sitting down when a conversation lasts for more than a few minutes in order to be at eye level with the student

Psychological Disabilities

Accommodations

  • Assistance with campus orientation, registration, etc.
  • Assistance with choosing class schedule
  • Extended time for exams
  • Change of location for exams
  • Note takers, readers, tape recorders
  • Modifications in seating arrangements (near door for frequent breaks)
  • Extensions of time for projects
  • Time management and study skills assistance

Instructional Strategies

  • Provide syllabus, textbook, and reading lists early
  • Allow beverages during class and exams. Some medications dry the mouth
  • Provide writing assignments as one alternative to oral presentations
  • Provide feedback frequently on academic performance
  • Allow flexibility in attendance requirements in case of hospitalization/crisis
  • Consider grade of incomplete or late withdrawals in the event of prolonged illness related absences
  • Provide outlines of lectures

Systemic Disabilities

There are other impairments (neurological and medical conditions) which do not fit under the major categories already discussed but which are covered under Section 504 and the ADA. These disabilities (e.g. heart conditions, sickle cell anemia, hemophilia, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, respiratory disorders, cancer, kidney problems, Tourette’s Syndrome, severe chronic pain) can affect students by significantly impairing their energy level, memory, mobility, speech, vision, or muscular coordination. In some cases, the degree of impairment may vary because of the nature of the medical condition. Some conditions are progressive and get worse year-by-year, resulting in emotional consequences for the student. Some students may be absent from class as a direct result of their disabilities, and they may require consideration regarding attendance policies. Some students may need accommodations similar to those found elsewhere in this guide. Others will need no special modifications.

Visual Disabilities

Accommodations

  • Books and materials on tape or computer disk
  • Large print materials
  • Closed circuit TV
  • Scanner and speech synthesizer
  • Magnifier
  • Tactile signage and maps
  • Auditory signals
  • Computer screen enhancement (ZoomText)
  • Braille printer
  • Note taker or Brailler
  • Brailled materials
  • Guide dog access
  • Extended time for exams and in class assignments
  • Proctored exams (oral administration, transcriber, exam on disk for use with a speech equipped computer)
  • Copies of overhead (enlarged, high contrast, bold)
  • Preferred seating for low vision students

Instructional Strategies

  • Provide a preview tour of the classroom, lab, and office before class
  • Provide class materials altered to correct format (enlarged, brailled, bold, etc.)
  • Provide tactile models, visual relief maps, replicas, etc., to convey ideas
  • State aloud what you write on the chalkboard or overhead projector
  • Face class when speaking
  • Be flexible with assignment deadlines, especially if library research is required
  • Consider alternative testing formats
  • Remember that time is required to locate suitable materials, textbooks, etc., in an alternative format
     

 

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