According to special education attorney Hope Kirsch, accommodations are techniques and
materials that help students learn or perform schoolwork more effectively.
Accommodations include extra time on tests, a lighter homework load, and
permission to tape-record assignments.
Modifications are changes to the content
or curriculum; special education means specially designed
instruction. When we talk about Section 504, we are not talking
about changing those educational expectations.
a 504 might include extra time for assignments, quiet place to take tests,
“chunking” assignment, help with organizing work such as
organizers. Thus, merely having a disability such as a learning
disability, autism (especially high functioning, or ADHD) does not automatically
entitle a student to special education. Rather, the disability must
also impact the student’s ability to access the general curriculum such that
modifications would be needed.
Special education is defined as
“specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique
needs of a child with a disability…” 20 U.S.C.
§1401. A child with a disability [under the IDEA] is one who not
only has a disability, but “who, by reason thereof, needs special education and
related services.” 20 U.S.C. §§ 1401, 1401 .)