Accommodation vs. Modification

What's the Difference?

Accommodation and modification are two terms commonly used in the field of education to address the needs of students with disabilities. Accommodation refers to changes made to the learning environment or instructional methods that allow students to access the same curriculum as their peers. This may include providing extra time for assignments or tests, providing assistive technology, or offering alternative formats for materials. On the other hand, modification involves making significant changes to the curriculum itself, such as simplifying content or reducing the number of learning objectives. While accommodation aims to support students in meeting the same academic standards, modification adjusts the expectations to better suit the individual needs of the student. Both accommodation and modification are essential strategies to ensure inclusive education for students with disabilities.


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DefinitionAdjustments made to support a student's learning without fundamentally changing the curriculum or lowering expectations.Changes made to the curriculum or expectations to meet the individual needs of a student.
GoalTo provide equal access to education while maintaining the same learning objectives.To adapt the curriculum to meet the specific needs of the student.
ScopeApplies to students with disabilities or special needs.Applies to students with disabilities or special needs, as well as students without disabilities who require significant modifications.
Level of ChangeAdjustments made within the existing curriculum and assessment framework.Changes made to the curriculum and assessment framework.
ExamplesProviding extra time for exams, allowing the use of assistive technology, providing a quiet workspace.Modifying assignments, reducing the amount of work, altering grading criteria.
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Further Detail


When it comes to education, it is essential to ensure that all students have equal opportunities to succeed. This includes providing necessary support and adjustments to meet their individual needs. Two common terms used in this context are accommodation and modification. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings and implications. In this article, we will explore the attributes of accommodation and modification, highlighting their differences and how they can benefit students.


Accommodation refers to the provision of support or adjustments that enable students to access the same curriculum and learning environment as their peers. It focuses on removing barriers and providing equal opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Accommodations do not alter the content or expectations of the curriculum but rather provide alternative ways for students to engage with the material.

There are various types of accommodations that can be implemented depending on the student's needs. Some common examples include:

  • Extended time for tests or assignments
  • Use of assistive technology, such as text-to-speech software or calculators
  • Providing a quiet space for exams or assessments
  • Allowing the use of a scribe or a note-taking app
  • Providing visual aids or graphic organizers

Accommodations are typically determined based on the student's individualized education plan (IEP) or 504 plan, which outlines their specific needs and recommended supports. The goal of accommodations is to level the playing field and ensure that students with disabilities or learning differences can fully participate and demonstrate their abilities.


On the other side of the spectrum, we have modification. Unlike accommodation, modification involves making changes to the curriculum or expectations to suit the student's abilities or goals. Modifications are typically implemented when the standard curriculum is not appropriate or feasible for the student due to their disability or learning challenges.

Modifications can involve altering the content, reducing the workload, or changing the assessment criteria. The purpose is to provide a curriculum that is more aligned with the student's abilities and allows them to make meaningful progress. However, it is important to note that modifications should not compromise the essential knowledge and skills that students need to acquire.

Some examples of modifications include:

  • Using simplified reading materials or texts at a lower reading level
  • Reducing the number of assignments or questions
  • Adjusting the grading scale or criteria
  • Providing alternative assignments or projects
  • Adapting the pace of instruction

Modifications are typically documented in the student's IEP or individualized learning plan (ILP). They are designed to ensure that students with significant disabilities or learning challenges can access an appropriate curriculum that meets their unique needs.

Key Differences

While accommodation and modification share the common goal of supporting students with disabilities or learning differences, there are several key differences between the two:

  1. Impact on Curriculum: Accommodations do not change the curriculum content or expectations, whereas modifications involve altering the curriculum to suit the student's abilities.
  2. Level of Support: Accommodations provide support to help students access the curriculum, while modifications provide a different curriculum that is more aligned with the student's abilities.
  3. Individualization: Accommodations are tailored to meet the specific needs of the student, whereas modifications are more comprehensive and may involve changes to multiple aspects of the curriculum.
  4. Long-Term Goals: Accommodations aim to help students develop skills to function independently in the standard curriculum, while modifications focus on helping students achieve their individualized goals.
  5. Documentation: Accommodations are typically documented in the student's IEP or 504 plan, while modifications are documented in the IEP or ILP.

Benefits for Students

Both accommodation and modification can have significant benefits for students with disabilities or learning differences:

  • Accommodation Benefits:
  • Allows students to access the same curriculum as their peers
  • Promotes inclusivity and equal opportunities
  • Reduces barriers to learning and assessment
  • Supports the development of independent learning skills
  • Builds self-confidence and self-advocacy
  • Modification Benefits:
  • Provides a curriculum that is more suitable for the student's abilities
  • Allows for meaningful progress and achievement
  • Reduces frustration and anxiety related to inaccessible curriculum
  • Supports the development of skills relevant to the student's goals
  • Enhances engagement and motivation in learning


Accommodation and modification are two essential approaches in supporting students with disabilities or learning differences. While accommodation focuses on removing barriers and providing support to access the standard curriculum, modification involves altering the curriculum to suit the student's abilities and goals. Both approaches have their place in education, and the decision to implement accommodations or modifications should be based on the individual needs and goals of the student. By understanding the differences between accommodation and modification, educators and parents can work together to create inclusive learning environments that empower all students to reach their full potential.

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