Accommodations and Modifications

Transition-age students often access the general curriculum using accommodations or modifications that align with their learning style and disability, as assessed and determined by the IEP team. Students may use both accommodations and modifications, depending on the educational setting and class expectations.

As students prepare for postsecondary education, they should be aware that only accommodations are acceptable in college classes. There is no modified curriculum. Many competitive work opportunities can be developed with accommodations, but employers may not be at liberty to modify work tasks. Although there are strategies to adapt college and job assignments, individuals who can learn to use accommodations should be doing so.


The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education defines accommodations as modifications that are typically provided by general educators within the general education environment. Preferential seating, pencil grips, or cooperative learning strategies are examples of typical accommodations. Accommodations do not involve modifying the material content (See this guide from the Massachusetts Department of Education for more information.) (PDF)

504 Plans and Individual Accommodation Plans

Children's Law Center of Massachusetts: 504 Plans / Individual Accommodation Plans

Modifications/Specially Designed Instruction

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education describes modifications as specially designed instruction that addresses the unique needs of the student, resulting from the student's disability. Specially designed instruction is a modification not regularly provided for students in the general education program. Special education services will usually include specially designed instruction. However, not all students will need specially designed instruction in all areas of educational need, and not all students will require all types of specially designed instruction. Specially designed instruction includes modifications that affect content, delivery of instruction, methodology, and/or performance criteria, and are necessary to assist the student in participating and learning. (See this guide from the Massachusetts Department of Education for more information.) (PDF)

Assistive Technology

As stipulated by IDEA 2004, each public agency must ensure that assistive technology devices or assistive technology services, or both, as those terms are defined in Sec. Sec. 300.5 and 300.6, respectively, are made available to a child with a disability if required as a part of the child's:

  1. Special education under Sec. 300.36;
  2. Related services under Sec. 300.34; or
  3. Supplementary aids and services under Sec. Sec. 300.38 and 300.114(a)(2)(ii).
  4. On a case-by-case basis, the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a child's home or in other settings is required if the child's IEP team determines that the child needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE.

For more information on assistive technology: