This is the third post in a 3 series blog.

Yesterday I wrote about reasonable accommodation. Today, I would like to continue with a discussion about the differences between accommodations and modifications. Understanding the difference can be one of the first steps in communicating with the district, since you need to know what to ask for before you can get it.

If your student is on an IEP or 504, you’ve likely heard one or both of these terms. They are not interchangeable, but they can often be confused for one another.

In the simplest terms:

An accommodation changes HOW a student learns the material.

A modification changes WHAT a student is taught or expected to learn.

Here are some examples:

Jadzia is dyslexic. Jadzia will listen to her summer reading via an audiobook, rather than reading a paperback. This has changed HOW Jadzia is learning the material, not what she is learning, so this is an accommodation.

Ezri has a traumatic brain injury that makes it difficult for her to process number functions. Instead of algebra, Ezri’s in a class to teach basic applied math, like identifying coin values and making change. Ezri is not learning the standard 9th-grade curriculum, but a modified curriculum. This is a modification.

Emony is autistic. To access the curriculum Emony requires a quiet environment, with low light. She wears headphones when she takes tests and often will be in a small group setting. Nothing has changed in the material she is learning. These are accommodations.

Tobin has severe asthma, and it is important that he does not become short of breath. For Tobin, the traditional gym class attended by his peers is not appropriate. Instead, Tobin walks laps around the baseball field. The curriculum has been changed for Tobin to remain healthy. This is a modification.