November 2011 | News You Can Use

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Accommodations and ModificationsPhoto of a young African-American boy, lifting his arms up high and grinning.


I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination. 

~~Jimmy Dean.


If you’re working with children–teaching, planning, organizing, or parenting–you probably already know that you need to pay attention and adjust your plans as you go along. Now that school’s in full swing, most of us are adjusting what we do. Whether it’s school schedules, lesson plans, assessments, or homework rituals, now is the time to revisit and refine.

That’s why this month we’re focusing on tools and resources to help you modify, adjust, and accommodate for student needs.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Please feel free to contact us at

Our best to you,

Your friends
at the National Dissemination Center
for Children with Disabilities



The Facts about Charter Schools and Students with Disabilities.
We answer 10 commonly asked questions that families and educators of students with disabilities have about charter schools. We also offer links to state-specific resources that can help you better understand how charter schools work in your individual state.

Preguntas Comunes de los Padres sobre los Servicios de Educación Especial.
We’ve updated the Spanish version of our popular Questions Often Asked by Parents about Special Education Services to reflect the requirements of IDEA 2004. Good for Spanish-speaking parents new to special education!

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Want to connect with excellent resources on accommodations and modifications that really help students with disabilities? We are pleased to offer these. It’s a topic we’ve spent a lot of time on, because it really does make a difference.

Classroom accommodations.
That’s the subject of the special focus section of our April 2010 eNews You Can Use. It’ll take you to excellent guidance on how to address the needs of students with disabilities through accommodations in the classroom. It also identifies resources on specific disabilities such as autism, AD/HD, learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and more.

Supports, modifications, and accommodations for students.
For many students with disabilities–and for many without–the key to success in the classroom lies in having appropriate adaptations, accommodations, and modifications made to the instruction and other classroom activities. This page is intended to help teachers and others find information that can guide them in making appropriate changes in the classroom based on what their students need.

Assessment and accommodations.
This is one of NICHCY’s Evidence for Education briefs. It’s not limited to just discussing how to make accommodations in testing but also delves into classroom accommodations.

Accommodations in assessment.
Recognizing that disability has its impact, IDEA permits children with disabilities to participate in large-scale assessment programs with accommodations. It’s the responsibility of the IEP team to decide how the student with a disability will participate, and then to document that decision in the child’s IEP. So how do you decide what a student needs?

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Speaking of accommodations.
The IDEA Partnership is dedicated to improving outcomes for students and youth with disabilities through shared work and learning. In keeping with that mission, you’ll find lots of useful resources posted on its Learning Port.

This month (given our focus), we point you to the Learning Port’s materials on accommodations.

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Public comment sought: Use of public benefits or insurance under Part B of IDEA.
The Secretary of Education is asking for public comment on proposed amendments regarding the use of public benefits or insurance in which a child participates to provide or pay for services required under Part B of IDEA. Comments are due on or before December 12, 2011. Read all about it, at:

The IEP Team: The law, the reality and the dream.
Ideally, your child’s IEP team will include all the right players. Who should be on that winning team? New from the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Family guide to systems of care for children with mental health needs.
Are you concerned that your child needs help getting along with others, controlling his or her behavior, or expressing emotions? Depending on your child’s needs and your family’s situation, you might look for help from schools, health clinics or hospitals, health insurance providers, community mental health centers, social service programs, and, possibly, the courts. This Family Guide informs caregivers and families about how to seek help for children with mental health problems.

When there’s a spinal cord injury. connects families who suddenly have to deal with a spinal cord injury with people like them who have already “been there” and “done that.” The site collects life experiences surrounding spinal cord injuries and brings them to the web where you can see and hear the answers to the questions most often asked after a spinal cord injury. The site has over 1,000 videos.

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Side-by-side comparison of the 2011 final Part C regulations to the 1999 regulations.
Yes! This side-by-side comparison of the new regulations with the previous ones for Part C has been developed by the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), its Division for Early Childhood (DEC), and the IDEA Infant Toddler Coordinators Association.

Companion slides with the side-by-side.
The IDEA Infant Toddler Coordinators Association also offers several companion slide sets that distill the side-by-side comparison by subject. At the link below, these resources include the word “slides.”

Fragile X syndrome.
Early Developments devotes an entire issue to Fragile X Syndrome: a chronology of research discoveries about Fragile X, screening newborns for FXS, addressing behavior challenges, and speech-language development.

Video | Child Outcomes Step by Step.
This video describes and illustrates the three child outcomes adopted by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) and reported on by all state early intervention (Part C) and preschool special education (Part B/619) programs as part of their Annual Performance Report (APR). The video explains functioning necessary for each child to be an active and successful participant at home, in the community, and in other places like a child care program or preschool. It can be used to provide an overview to the three outcomes for professional development and training, orienting families, and introducing the outcomes to other constituents such as policymakers or funders. Now that’s a resource!

Early identification of autism spectrum disorders | Learning module.
This module describes the early characteristics of ASD and a recommended set of practices that will lead to early identification of ASD. This includes a description of surveillance, screening, and diagnostic assessment practices along with the tools and processes that will assist professionals in communicating with families about their young child’s status relative to ASD.

“Little Kids, Big Questions” podcast series.
Everyone seems to have an opinion about how to handle parenting challenges. This podcast series empowers listeners to find their own way through, using research as their guide. Little Kids, Big Questions is a series of 12 podcasts with leading experts that translates the research of early childhood development into practices that mothers, fathers, and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. From Zero to Three.

NECTAC’s eNotes is a treasure trove of resources.
Again, we must say that NECTAC keeps the field up to date on new resources for early intervention systems, providers, and families. Rather than just repeat NECTAC’s news (too much like stealing their thunder), we enthusiastically suggest having a look at eNotes from October, easily viewed at:

What works in early childhood education?
Visit the What Works Clearinghouse’s review of early childhood education interventions (for preschoolers, aged 3-5) for evidence of their effectiveness in promiting children’s school readiness.

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Visit NCEO’s Accommodations pages-they’re fantastic!
You’d better bring a big bag to haul away the resources you find at NCEO (National Center on Educational Outcomes). Enter through the link below and find sections answering FAQs, publications, links to state websites posting their accommodations policies and information, and more.

A quick chart of accommodations for specific types of disabilities.

Related services: Common supports for students with disabilities.
This new module from the IRIS Center describes related services and offers an overview of the benefits they provide to students with disabilities in the general education classroom. It highlights 5 commonly used related services (physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, social work services, and psychological services) and briefly highlights many of the other related services identified in IDEA ’04.

Educator’s guide to getting accessible materials for your students.
From the center that knows all about accessible instructional materials, the AIM Center.

Instructional accommodations and great teacher tools.
From Special Connections, this series of webpages connects teachers, families, and IEP teams with tools related to instructional accommodations, including how to keep track of what works.

Accommodations and instructional practices for specific disabilities.
Accommodations need to be individualized to address the needs of each student. The nature of the student’s disability will affect the types of accommodations to be made. So let’s get specific!

Attention deficit disorders.
Check out examples of accommodations that teachers can make to adapt to the needs of students with ADD in the areas of inattention, impulsivity, mood, academic skills, organization, motor activity, compliance, and socialization.

Autism spectrum disorders.
Visit the online training modules for teachers on 24 evidence-based practices for children and adolescents with autism spectrum disorders. From the National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Down syndrome.
This guide, Supporting the Student with Down Syndrome in Your Classroom, comes from the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan, but includes lots of useful information for teachers everywhere.

Fetal alcohol syndrome.
Reach to Teach is a valuable resource for parents and teachers to use in educating elementary and middle school children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD). The booklet provides a basic introduction to FASD, and provides tools to enhance communication between parents and teachers.

Hearing impairments or deafness.
Here’s an IEP checklist for teams working on behalf of a student with hearing loss.

Learning disabilities.
From the National Center for Learning Disabilities.

Special health care needs.
Here’s a manual from the state of Montana that educators, school nurses, and parents throughout the U.S. may find helpful.

Traumatic brain injury.
TBI Education offers evidence-based information and resources for people working with students who have a traumatic brain injury.

Visual impairments.
From the IRIS Center, here’s a training module called Accommodations to the Physical Environment: Setting up a Classroom for Students with Visual Disabilities. Its resources offer helpful tips on setting up the physical aspects of your classroom and introduce types of equipment used by students with visual disabilities.

See also the special focus sections of these recent issues of News You Can Use for more insight and info into accommodations that work for students with specific disabilities:

August 2010 | Teaching Students with Disabilities, Part 1

September 2010 | Teaching Students with Disabilities, Part 2

When you’re 18 | A health care transition guide for young adults.
Information to help young adults understand what it means to be legally in charge of their health care and how to stay healthy as they grow into adulthood. Includes quizzes on being an adult with special needs, life as an adult, talking with doctors, plus additional Web resources on college and work. This link opens a PDF document.

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The Department’s Q&A guidance on secondary transition.
OSEP has updated its guidance on secondary transition, including identifying postsecondary goals in training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living.

Encouraging meaningful parent/educator collaboration: A review of recent literature.
This document synthesizes findings from a number of recent academic studies and policy publications. Among the highlights is the idea that involvement may be too narrow a term to encapsulate the range and depth of partnerships that support students’ success.

Dropout prevention services that public schools use.
NCES has released Report on Dropout Prevention Services and Programs in Public School Districts: 2010-11, which provides national data about how public school districts identify students at risk of dropping out, programs used specifically to address the needs of students at risk of dropping out, the use of mentors for at-risk students, and efforts to encourage dropouts to return to school.

Understanding subgroups in common state assessments: Special education students and ELLs.
This brief is part of a new series developed for states involved in the Race to the Top (RTTT) Assessment Consortia. The brief presents information on the characteristics of special education students, English Language Learners (ELLs), and ELLs with disabilities. It provides recommendations for the Consortia states about steps to take as they design their assessment systems.

Calculating disproportionality.
The Data Accountability Center has just released revised editions of three resources to help you calculate racial/ethnic disproportionality in special education using: (1) the new set of seven racial/ethnic reporting categories, (2) other methodologies for calculating disproportionality, (3) requirements related to significant disproportionality in discipline, and (4) small cell sizes. Find all at:

National assessment of IDEA.
The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance recently released the National Assessment of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The report describes the key purposes of the Act and its implementation effectiveness in key areas, including service provision, response to intervention, coordinated early intervening services, and promoting parent participation and dispute resolution. The congressionally mandated study is based on surveys of state agency directors and a nationally representative sample of district special education directors conducted in 2009.

Assessment results for students with disabilities, nationwide.
The 2008-09 Publicly Reported Assessment Results for Students with Disabilities and ELLs with Disabilities is the 13th annual report by National Center on Educational Outcomes analyzing public reporting of assessment data for students with disabilities in K-12 schools in the United States.

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Publication of this eNewsletter is made possible through Cooperative Agreement #H326N080003 between FHI 360 and the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) of the U.S. Department of Education. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government or by the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities.


Comments on our newsletter? Too long? Too short? Off-target? Right on? Suggestions for future topics? Please feel free to contact us at We’re here to help you help children with disabilities.

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NOTICE: NICHCY is going away, but its resources are not. Find hundreds of legacy NICHCY publications, as well as our training curriculum on IDEA 2004, in the Center for Parent Information and Resources' Library at This website will remain available until September 30, 2014. After that date, web visitors will be automatically redirected to