Adaptations & Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

by Jane Williams, Ph.D.
University of Nevada, Las Vegas


picture of a boy and girl – the girl is readingIn recent years, NICHCY has received an increasing number of requests for information on how to make adaptations and accommodations for students with disabilities in both general and special education classrooms. This information is needed in part because more and more students with disabilities are being educated in the general education environment along with their peers without disabilities, using the general curriculum—that is to say, the curriculum that is used with nondisabled 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. Some adaptations are as simple as moving a distractible student to the front of the class or away from the pencil sharpener or the window. Other modifications may involve changing the way that material is presented or the way that students respond to show their learning.

Adaptations, accommodations, and modifications need to be individualized for students, based upon their needs and their personal learning styles and interests. This allows students to access the general curriculum and other learning materials and activities and to demonstrate what they have learned. As they experience success in the classroom, motivation and learning increase, and overall student outcomes improve.

It is not always obvious what adaptations, accommodations, or modifications would be beneficial for a particular student, or how changes to the curriculum, its presentation, the classroom setting, or student evaluation might be made. This Resources You Can Use 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. All of the resources are rich with suggestions and techniques that can help teachers and, ultimately, students. We have included a description of each resource so that readers can select the ones that are most relevant to their needs and their students. Contact information for book publishers is provided at the end of this document, so that readers can easily obtain those resources of interest to them.


picture of a book

A process for adapting curriculum in inclusive classrooms. (1997, Winter). The Inclusion Notebook, 1(3), 5.

This one-page flowchart suggests that the first step in making adaptations is to identify the student's educational goals and objectives to be incorporated into his or her general education activities. The student's teachers work together to identify the adaptations that are needed in four areas: instructional arrangement, lesson format, specific learning strategies, and curricular goals. In each of these areas, the teachers may adapt the environment, modify materials, and select supports.

Bonus report: Grading students in special education. (1998, January). Horsham, PA: LRP Publications.

This report discusses procedures for providing alternative grading options for students with disabilities and references communications with the U.S. Office for Civil Rights on the topic. Responses to the following three questions are provided:

  • May a student with a disability who receives special education accommodations in a general education classroom be given modified grades?
  • Can classes be identified as special education classes on the high school student's transcript to indicate that the student has had a modified curriculum in a general education class?
  • Can asterisks or other symbols or codes be written on a high school student's transcript to indicate that the student has had a modified curriculum in the general education class?

The following 10 alternative grading methods are described: individualized education program (IEP) grading, student self-comparison, contract grading, pass/fail, mastery level/criterion systems, checklists, multiple grading, level grading, shared grading, and descriptive grading. Finally, the article presents a framework for making grading decisions and a list of accommodations and modifications used in grading by one high school.

Butler, F.M. (1996, September). A better way to grade special education students. CEC Today, 4(3), 14.

This one-page article provides guidelines for teachers on grading procedures for students in general education classes. For example, teacher can award regular letter grades, or use a variety of alternative methods that allow the student to demonstrate that he or she has mastered the content. If an alternative method is used, the teacher must select a grading alternative that corresponds to the method selected.

Cheney, C. (1989, September). The systematic adaptation of instructional materials and techniques for problem learners. Academic Therapy, 25(1), 25-30.

The author suggests that, in order to be effective in adapting materials and methods, the characteristics of the material or instructional technique and the characteristics of the learner must be compared. Solutions are presented for modifying the instructional level of the material, addressing the learning characteristics of the student, and matching the motivational characteristics of the student with the demands of the material.

Council for Exceptional Children. (1997, September). Effective accommodations for students with exceptionalities. CEC Today, 1, 9, 15.

This easy-to-read article suggests that making effective accommodations for students requires joint planning and evaluation by both general and special education teachers. Four categories of accommodations are discussed—altering the instructional grouping or arrangement, altering the lesson format, altering the goals, and altering the educator's teaching style. Guidelines are included for evaluating the accommodations selected, as are suggestions for accommodations in five areas—increasing student participation in large group instruction, textual accommodations, sequencing or assignment completion, following instructions, and teaching test-taking skills.

Curriculum modification form. (1997, Winter). The Inclusion Notebook, 1(3), 6.

This easy-to-use form can help teachers detail the modifications in materials, natural supports, or teacher/adult service provider supports that may help a student participate in a given activity with his or her peers.

“picture of students around a computerFuchs, L.S., & Fuchs, D. (1998, Winter). General educators' instructional adaptation for students with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 21(1), 23-33.

This article looks at instructional adaptation that teachers can make to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities in the area of mathematics. The authors first summarize the levels and types of instructional adaptations that general educators typically use in their classrooms (e.g., variations in materials, grouping, and goals). The authors then give an overview of methods that general educators can use to extend their adaptation strategies. These methods include curriculum-based measurement with peer-assisted learning strategies. As part of this approach, the authors describe the use of weekly assessment of student progress; classwide bi-weekly student feedback so that students can track their own learning and progress; and classwide teacher reports, which include recommendations for what to teach, how to group students for instruction on specific skills, and using computer-assisted instruction and peer-assisted learning strategies with specific students.

Isaacson, S., & Gleason, M.M. (1997). Mechanical obstacles to writing: What can teachers do to help students with learning problems? Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 12(3), 188-194.

This article presents eight methods for helping students overcome the spelling obstacle to writing and achieve success with grade-level writing activities: (1) have the student dictate; (2) prompt by precueing the spelling; (3) teach a strategy for using a word book; (4) have the student ask the teacher; (5) encourage invented spelling; (6) promote peer collaboration; (7) teach a self-checking strategy; and (8) have students use technology.

McMackin, M.C., & Bukowiecki, E.M. (1997). A change in focus: Teaching diverse learners within an inclusive elementary school classroom. Equity and Excellence in Education, 30(1), 32-39.

The authors present a list of modifications that can be made for diverse learners in language arts activities in three areas: (a) context for learning; (b) instructional strategies/materials; and (c) organizational and study skills. Within the context for learning category, the article suggests providing clear transitions between activities, creating a non-distracting environment, and sending home a duplicate set of books. Modifications for instructional strategies or materials include allowing the child to dictate ideas, modifying the amount of in-class and homework assignments, and planning lessons that involve Gardner's seven intelligences. Strategies for enhancing organizational and study skills include limiting choices, providing envelopes to organize information or papers, and distributing discussion questions prior to the lesson for some students. The authors also suggest modifications that can be made within reading, writing, listening, and speaking activities that are an integral component of all language arts activities.

Meese, R.L. (1992). Adapting textbooks for children with learning disabilities in mainstreamed classrooms. Teaching Exceptional Children, 24(3), 49-51.

This article describes three ways to modify a textbook: tape recording the textbook, highlighting information in the textbook, or providing the student with a high-interest/low-level vocabulary alternative. The author suggests four strategies for altering instructional procedures to assist the student with the mastery of content: teaching textbook structure, teaching previewing strategies, providing advance organizers to the student, and preteaching critical vocabulary. Finally, the author describes the implementation of self-questioning, active reading, and the use of study cards to help students master the content presented in textbooks.

Raza, S.Y. (1997, September). Enhance your chances for success with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Intervention in School and Clinic, 33(1), 56-57.

The author presents 20 strategies for working with students with ADHD in the general education classroom. Strategies include environmental adaptations such as using proximity control and incorporating movement into lessons, and adaptations to the way the material is presented, such as developing graphic organizers, making copies of overheads and board notes, and breaking assignments into smaller chunks. The author also recommends varying assessment procedures, including portfolio assessment, oral exams, and informal measures.


picture of a stack of booksBos, C.S., & Vaughn, S. (1998). Strategies for teaching students with learning and behavior problems (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

The authors address adaptations and accommodations to the instructional process within several of this book's 12 chapters. In Chapter 1, they suggest a series of questions for the teacher to ask to evaluate the efficacy of instruction and make modifications accordingly. Chapters 3-8 present instructional activities that detail the learning objective, appropriate grade level, materials needed, teaching procedures, and suggested adaptations that may be made to each activity. In Chapter 7, the authors address strategies for developing listener-friendly lectures; adapting textbooks, class assignments, homework; constructing and adapting tests; and creating portfolios to supplement or replace tests. In Chapter 11, suggestions are presented for arranging the classroom environment to enhance student learning, selecting instructional materials and equipment, and scheduling considerations. (507 pages; two appendices)

Ciborowski, J. (1992). Textbooks and the students who can't read them: A guide to teaching content. Cambridge, MA: Brookline.

This book presents a series of instructional techniques that teachers can use to improve their students' understanding of mainstream textbooks, especially students with low reading skills. A three-phase model is described, focusing on what teachers and students can do: before reading, to give readers a head start; during reading, to get students to become more active comprehenders and thinkers while reading; and after reading, to get students to consolidate and extend their textbook knowledge. The before-reading phase includes selecting core vocabulary, using analogies and visual images, having students make predictions, and using concept maps. The during-reading phase includes using strategies and concept maps, reciprocal teaching, and notetaking. The after-reading phase includes completing vocabulary lists, predictions, and concepts maps from other phases. (102 pages)

Cole, S., Horvath, B., Chapman, C., Deschenes, C., Ebeling, D.G., & Sprague, J. (2000). Adapting curriculum & instruction in inclusive classrooms: A teacher's desk reference (2nd ed.). Bloomington, IN: Center on Education and Lifelong Learning, Indiana Institute on Disability and Community.

This guide begins by exploring a variety of assumptions that teachers may have about teaching and learning. It then lays out the planning steps teachers can use to create a lesson for all learners in the classroom, including identifying the instructional plan for most learners and the plan for learners who will need adaptations made in the curriculum and/or instruction. Six typical types of adaptations are identified: input (such as use of videos, computer, or field trips), output (how learners will demonstrate understanding), size (the length of the assignment learners will be expected to complete), time (how much time learners will have to complete the assignment), difficulty (how the complexity of the lesson will be modified), and level of support (how much assistance will be provided to learners).

The guide also discusses options for working with students whose needs are so significant that they cannot be met with typical types of curricular adaptations and differentiated instruction. Three additional adaptations are discussed: degree of participation (the extent to which the learner will be actively involved in the task), modified goals (adapting outcome expectations), and substitute curriculum (when instruction is significantly differentiated to meet a learner's identified goals). Evaluation issues are also discussed. The guide concludes with a variety of forms and checklists teachers can use to plan and samples of how these forms might be completed. (91 pages)

picture of a bookshelfDover, W. (2001). The paraeducator's guide to instructional and curricular modifications. Manhattan, KS: Master Teacher.

This resource provides real-life examples and tips in such areas as: adapting worksheets and tests for students with reading problems; providing concrete examples for students with cognitive disabilities; creating study guides; explaining computation to students; and promoting positive behavior. The guide also discusses which modifications and accommodations are, and are not, appropriate for paraeducators to implement. (86 pages; reproducible forms)

Friend, M., & Bursuck, W.D. (1999). Including students with special needs: A practical guide for classroom teachers (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

The authors describe the "INCLUDE" strategy, a 7-step process for accommodating the learning and behavioral needs of students in the general education classroom. The authors also provide suggestions for accommodating the educational needs of students with high- and low-incidence disabilities, students with moderate to severe disabilities, students with ADHD, those who are gifted and talented, those who are at-risk, and students from culturally diverse backgrounds. Specific adaptations to basic skills instruction and subject area content are also discussed, including teaching pre-skills, implementing the PreP (PreReading Plan) strategy, using advance organizers, and constructing study guides and graphic organizers. The authors also suggest adaptations that can be made to help students succeed in independent practice, seatwork assignments, and homework assignments. Issues associated with evaluating student learning are examined as well, including adaptations that can be made before, during, and after testing; adapting report card grades; and using performance-based and portfolio assessments. (484 pages; glossary; references)

Hammeken, P.A. (2000). Inclusion: 450 strategies for success: A practical guide for all educators who teach students with disabilities. Minnetonka, MN: Peytral.

This book is divided into three sections. The first contains ideas to help develop and implement an inclusive education program. The second includes hundreds of ideas and strategies for modifying and adapting the curriculum and textbooks, including daily assignments, written language activities, spelling work, mathematic lessons, directions, instructional group size, and assessment. The third section includes an appendix with reproducible worksheets and resources to assist with inclusive education. (192 pages; appendix; resources)

Hoover, J.J., & Patton, J.R. (1997). Curriculum adaptations for students with learning and behavior problems: Principles and practices (2nd ed.). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed.

This book defines curriculum and identifies three types: explicit, hidden, and absent. The authors detail four interrelated elements of curriculum (content, instructional strategies, classroom instructional settings, and student behaviors). The authors present a "Curriculum Adaptation Quick Screen" designed to identify in which of the four elements of curriculum a student may need adaptations. In Chapter 3, Implementing Curriculum Adaptations, the authors present guidelines and teaching strategies for implementing adaptations in each of the four elements of curriculum. The book also presents guidelines for general and special educators to use as they collaborate to design, implement, and evaluate adaptations effectively. (107 pages; references)

picture of a child and teacherHounshell, M., Irwin, M., Ely, S., Soto, S., Janes, M.B., & Morrison, V. (1999). Reach them all: Adapting curriculum and instruction with technology in inclusive classrooms. Bloomington, IN: Center for Disability Information and Referral, and Center on Technology and Instruction.

This manual is intended to help teachers use technology as a tool in adapting curriculum and instruction. Although some strategies include computers and more expensive technology, most emphasize equipment already available in most schools, such as tape recorders, VCRs, and overhead projectors. The manual presents concise examples of how various equipment may be used to promote student learning, reviews learning styles and adaptations, and describes 12 steps in the adaptation process. Subject area samples are included, ranging from art to writing to math to job skills; these detail how technology can be used as well as what types of adaptations can be made for one or more learners. Lesson planning and recording forms are included and can be used to plan, record, and/or evaluate lesson adaptations and student outcomes. (108 pages; glossary; resources)

Janney, R., & Snell, M. (2000). Teachers' guides to inclusive practices: Modifying schoolwork. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.

This book provides educators with strategies, models, and examples for adapting the classroom, curriculum, and instruction to address each student's academic and social success. Team communication, monitoring, and evaluation are also discussed, and blank forms are provided to support teacher planning. (112 pages)

Kame'enui, E.J., & Carnine, D.W. (1998). Effective teaching strategies that accommodate diverse learners. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

Six principles provide the basis for this text: Big Ideas, Conspicuous Strategies, Mediated Scaffolding, Primed Background Knowledge, Strategic Integration, and Judicious Review. The introductory chapter describes each of these principles. Chapter 2 describes characteristics of diverse learners, and the next five chapters provide strategies for teaching reading, writing, mathematics, science, and social studies. The authors devote a chapter to promising practices for teaching students with limited English proficiency and conclude the text with a chapter that discusses the contextual social and economic issues that influence curricular change and reform. (222 pages; plus a teacher's manual)

Kame'enui, E.J., & Simmons, D.C. (1999). Toward successful inclusion of students with disabilities: The architecture of instruction. Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.

This booklet is the first volume in an ERIC/OSEP Mini-Library designed to assist teachers with curricular adaptations. This material provides an overview of six principles of effective curricular design: Big Ideas, Conspicuous Strategies, Mediated Scaffolding, Primed Background Knowledge, Strategic Integration, and Judicious Review. The authors present examples of these six principles for beginning reading and expository writing. (45 pages; bibliography; references)

Lewis, R.B., & Doorlag, D.H. (1999). Teaching special education students in general education classrooms (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

This book first presents the rationale for inclusion, describes the importance of collaboration and a team approach to working with students with disabilities, and describes the needs of students with disabilities. Within the first three chapters, Lewis and Doorlag discuss classroom modifications and, in one of their many "Inclusion Tips for Teachers" boxes, present tips for explaining classroom modifications to peers.

The second part of the book addresses "Adapting Instruction" and "Skills for the General Educator." The authors suggest strategies for modifying materials and activities, altering task requirements, and selecting an alternate task; managing classroom behavior and promoting social acceptance; and arranging the physical and instructional environment to accommodate the needs of students with disabilities. Numerous instructional and assistive technology devices and strategies that a teacher may use to modify or adapt instruction are also described.

Parts III and IV present indicators of the category of disability or special need and assessment strategies for identifying the disability or special need. These sections contain a substantial amount of information regarding the adaptations, modifications, or accommodations that can be made in the classroom environment or instructional activities to meet the specific needs of the learner. (472 pages; glossary; references)

picture of a child at a blackboardMcCoy, K.M. (1995). Teaching special learners in the general education classroom: Methods and techniques (2nd ed.). Denver, CO: Love.

This text is targeted for elementary special and general educators who are working in inclusive settings with students with disabilities and others who need instructional accommodations. The author describes strategies for working with students with physical, visual, and hearing disabilities, many of which include adaptations to the learning environment. The sixth chapter is devoted to classroom organization strategies designed to reduce extraneous information, consolidate instructional materials, and maximize teaching time.

The author also suggests methods for adapting evaluation materials, including student response modes, and includes a chapter entitled "Reading for Special Populations" that suggests practical classroom methods and techniques. Chapters addressing written language and mathematics evaluation and instruction also provide strategies for working with students whose learning styles dictate the need for modifications to the curriculum and teaching methods. The last chapter addresses "Accommodation through Technology: Personal Computers" and suggests linkages with the general curriculum through the use of technology. (484 pages; glossary)

Pierangelo, R., & Giulliani, G. (1998). Special educator's complete guide to 109 diagnostic tests. West Nyack, NJ: Center for Applied Research in Education.

Chapter 13 of this book, Classroom Remediation Techniques, presents suggestions for working with students who have learning disabilities, emotional disturbances, mental retardation, Tourette's syndrome, or ADHD. The suggestions include strategies for adapting and modifying the classroom environment, methods and learning materials utilized, assignments, and evaluation of student performance. The accommodations suggested address the student's behavioral concerns, work habits, organizational skills, and ability to follow directions and pay attention. The authors also present adaptations and modifications for content area material. (298 pages; six appendices; references)

Rivera, D.P., & Smith, D.D. (1997). Teaching students with learning and behavior problems (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

This text presents information about best practices in special education curriculum and instruction. It is organized into three parts: Part I introduces the reader to the fundamentals of teaching, provides information about common characteristics of learners with special needs, and lists the skills that teachers should possess to teach these learners. Part II presents information about social and behavioral instruction. Part III addresses instructional techniques and methods for teaching reading, mathematics, written communication, and study skills. There is also a chapter on transition from school to postschool activities. Within many of the chapters, the authors discuss adaptations and accommodations that may be made to ensure that the learning and behavioral characteristics of students are addressed, including environmental considerations, adaptive instruction, instructional and assistive technology aids and devices to assist students, and "Tips for Teachers" that include techniques that will enhance instruction, as well as those that should be avoided. (449 pages; glossary)

picture of a child and adult at a table with the child writingSalend, S.J. (1998). Effective mainstreaming: Creating inclusive classrooms (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

The author introduces adaptations and accommodations in Chapter 3 through two sections on the Individualized Education Program (IEP) titled "Adaptive Devices" and "Testing Modifications." In Chapter 5, he includes a section on adaptive devices to use when teaching students about the characteristics of individuals with disabilities. Chapters 7 through 12 are specifically devoted to strategies for adapting and modifying the instructional procedures, classroom organization, materials, and evaluation and grading procedures for diverse learners. Chapter 7, Adapting Large- and Small-Group Instruction, includes a checklist for determining the appropriate instructional modifications for students and information on adapting oral presentations, student-directed small group activities, and homework. Chapter 8 includes sections on adapting instruction for students who have difficulty reading and gaining information from print materials, modifying instruction for students with sensory disabilities, using instructional and assistive technology to modify instruction, and accommodating the needs of students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

Remaining chapters present a myriad of suggestions for modifying instruction in content areas, including "How Can I Modify the Classroom Environment to Accommodate the Learning, Behavioral, Physical, and Social Needs of My Students" and strategies for adapting the grading and testing of students. (472 pages; references) (Editor's note: A fourth edition of this book became available in 2001.)

Schumaker, J., & Lenz, K. (1999). Adapting language arts, social studies, and science materials for the inclusive classroom. Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.

This booklet is the third volume of the ERIC/OSEP Mini-Library on adapting curricular materials. It focuses on adapting curricular materials for students in grades three through eight in the areas of language arts, science, and social studies. Materials may be adapted in two ways: content or format. Part 1 of the booklet is entitled "Planning to Adapt" and presents nine steps in adapting materials. Part II provides 12 examples in the areas of adapting existing materials, mediating existing materials, and selecting alternate materials. (110 pages; appendix)

Schumm, J.S. (1999). Adapting reading and math materials for the inclusive classroom. Reston, VA: Council for Exceptional Children.

This booklet is the second volume of the ERIC/OSEP Mini-Library on adapting curricular materials. Eight principles are described. These are organized by the acronym FLEXIBLE: Feasible, Lively, Eliminated, eXplicit, Intentional, Beneficial, Limelight, and Evaluated. A set of questions accompanies each principle. Ten adaptations that may be made to reading and mathematics instruction in grades K-5 are also discussed, in response to questions such as "What is the adaptation?" "What does it look like in practice?" "Who can provide additional information?" and "What additional information is available?" (61 pages)

Smith, D.D. (2001). Introduction to special education: Teaching in an age of challenge (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

This text is organized into 12 chapters and includes an "Accommodating for Inclusive Environments" feature that presents suggestions for including students with disabilities in the general education classroom. "Tips for Teachers" is another feature of the text and provides practical information for working with students with disabilities. The third chapter presents strategies for working with students with culturally and linguistically diverse needs. Other chapters focus on a category of disability and provide information on the disability's characteristics, identification procedures, incidence, causes, and appropriate learning strategies. Within each chapter, the author presents appropriate materials for enhancing the learner outcomes. (640 pages; glossary; references)

Thurlow, M.L., Elliott, J.L., & Ysseldyke, J.E. (1998). Testing students with disabilities: Practical strategies for complying with district and state requirements. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

This book is an excellent resource for teachers and administrators as they address the provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997 (IDEA '97) that require all students to participate in state and district-wide assessments, or alternate assessments. In the first chapter the authors define accountability, assessment, and testing; list six reasons why students with disabilities should be included in district and statewide accountability systems; and include a checklist entitled "Participation Decision-Making Form" to help the IEP team determine whether the student should participate in the regular or alternate assessment of the state or district.

In Chapters 3-5 the authors list six types of assessment accommodations—setting, presentation, timing, response, scheduling, and other—and include examples of each. The authors suggest that there should be a link between instructional accommodations and accommodations provided on large-scale assessments, and present examples of linkages.

There are three sets of resources included with the book: (1) reproducible forms with the checklists and forms presented in the body of the book; (2) staff development materials, including nine modules with handouts, activities, overheads, and scripts; and (3) technical assistance and dissemination networks, including a number of selected Web sites. (189 pages; resources)

This is a picture of a boy and girl.  The girl is using crutches to walk while the boy carries booksTilton, L. (1996). Inclusion—A fresh look: Practical strategies to help all students succeed, Elementary edition. Shorewood, MN: Covington Cove Publications.

This teacher- and parent-friendly book begins with the goals of inclusion and an overview of the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 1990 with respect to educating students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment with the provision of supplementary aids and services. Chapter 2 addresses the expectations of the classroom with regard to student performance on academically-related material and provides a checklist for curriculum modifications in seven areas: teaching style, rules, student response, written work, textbook, assessment, and grading.

Chapter 3, Classroom Adaptations, presents suggestions for helping all students succeed based on their specific learning style. The author also presents specific guidelines for revising written materials by looking at the layout, directions, and content of the material. Examples are provided for adapting teacher-made tests to accommodate specific learning needs of students and for teaching note-taking to students. An excellent list of modifications and adaptations from the PACER Center is included.

Other chapters present activities in reading and math for the inclusive classroom; the benefits and challenges of collaboration, with a problem-solving checklist for both special and general educators; behavior management; strategies for working with parents and paraprofessionals; responses to common questions; and resources, including reprints of the Disability Fact Sheets from the National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY). (222 pages; recommended readings)

Vaughn, S., Bos, C.S., & Schumm, J.S. (2000). Teaching exceptional, diverse, and at-risk students in the general education classroom (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Throughout the 16 chapters and appendix of this book, the authors address adaptations for students with disabilities in general education. Five chapters present instructional practices and specific accommodations for working with students with disabilities and culturally and linguistically diverse needs in the general education classroom. In each chapter, the authors present suggested teaching guidelines, instructional techniques, and accommodations for students with a specific category of disability, those who are culturally or linguistically diverse or at risk, and those who are gifted and talented.

The book provides step-by-step procedures for implementing curricular adaptations for reading, writing, mathematics, and content area learning. The authors present suggestions for adapting basal materials for students with special needs, class assignments, homework, tests, and content area texts. The book concludes with an excellent appendix on action learning (teaching study skills, learning strategies, and self-advocacy) designed for middle school and senior high teachers. (506 pages; glossary; references; supplements: instructor's manual, test bank, and inclusion video)

picture of a boy raising his handWinebrenner, S. (1996). Teaching kids with learning difficulties in the regular classroom: Strategies and techniques every teacher can use to challenge and motivate struggling students. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.

This easily-read book presents many practical strategies for teaching students, including those with disabilities, in general education classrooms. According to the author, the strategies are not linked to a specific category of disability but are designed to be matched to the particular learning and behavioral characteristics of the student, the learning outcomes expected, and the demands of the environment and material utilized.

Topics addressed include: learning styles; reading, writing, science, social studies and mathematics instruction and adaptations that have proven effective; improving the organization and study skills of students; assessing and evaluating what students learn, including the use of authentic assessment (e.g., portfolios, performances, exhibitions, and demonstrations); teaching students to behave appropriately; homework; and strategies for conducting productive parent-teacher meetings. (216 pages; appendix)

Wood, J.W. (1998). Adapting instruction to accommodate students in inclusive settings (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill.

This book uses the SAALE (Systematic Approach for Adapting the Learning Environment) model of inclusion. The first component of the model is a transition/intervention checklist, which is designed to identify a student's learning and behavioral challenges within the general education class environment. The second component of the SAALE model is using the information gathered from the checklist to individualize instruction. Accommodation is accomplished by adapting the learning environment, behavioral environment, and/or physical environment for the student.

The book provides a myriad of suggestions for adaptations, accommodations, modifications, and supports for students within the general education environment. The author presents a very comprehensive list of suggested accommodations for students based upon their preferred learning modality and a list of accommodations based on subject matter. Suggestions are also presented for modifying worksheets, note-taking, organizing notebooks, and using study guides and assignment books, as well as alternatives to writing book reports, participating in oral classroom discussions, reading graphs and maps, and a number of other typical classroom activities. (532 pages; two appendices; instructor‘s manual; test bank; and computer program available for using the SAALE checklist)


picture of a video camera and VHS tap

Accommodating individual learning styles. (1991). Fairfield, CT: Queue, Inc. Running Time: 17 minutes.

The first part of this video addresses the need to provide learning activities that utilize both sides of the brain and reviews the differences in both hemispheres that affect classroom teaching and learning. The video also refers to several inventories that teachers may administer to students to assess their preferred learning style. The second section of the tape presents adaptations for learners whose preferred learning style is auditory, visual, and haptic for completing a book report, learning a list of spelling words, and completing a science lesson on the solar system. The tape concludes with a challenge for teachers to engage the verbal and visual sides of the brain to increase the likelihood that students will view, hear, speak and do instructional activities in the classroom in meaningful ways that result in effective learning.

Accommodations: Making the instruction and assessment connection. (2000). Alexandria, VA: National Association of State Directors of Special Education. Running Time: 90 minutes.

This videotape highlights practical decisions and uses of accommodations, focusing specifically on accommodations in instruction, classroom tests, and state and school district assessments.

Technology in today's classroom video series. Skip Stahl on technology and students with special needs. (1998). Santa Monica, CA: Canter & Associates. Running time: 1 hour, 5 minutes.

This video "focuses on the adaptation of electronic media to build flexible access and learning supports into mainstream curricula" and "shows teachers how they can adapt their curriculum to meet a wide range of student needs using technology." There are two programs within the video: One, Meeting the Special Needs of Students through Technology; and Two, Applications for Meeting Special Needs. The accompanying Leader's Manual includes detailed instructions for previewing, viewing, and summarizing the programs. Each program includes objectives, group discussion questions, group activities, and classroom application activities for use after viewing the programs.

Throughout the video, examples are provided for adapting the curriculum using assistive technology and technology that adapts the curriculum. The video portrays the materials being implemented in elementary, middle, and senior high schools. (47 pages; Leader's Manual; resources for using technology to meet special needs)

List of Publishers

Obtaining Journal Articles That Interest You

Journal articles may be available at a local university or college, local library, or a local professional teachers' library, if the journal in question is part of that institution's collection. If not, you will need to contact the journal publisher directly to inquire about their duplication policies. Some publishers handle this activity themselves; others arrange to have their journal articles distributed through either Bell & Howell Information and Learning (formerly known as University Microfilms International, or UMI) or the Copyright Clearance Center. For your convenience, both of these institutions are listed below.

Allyn & Bacon
Order Processing Center
P.O. Box 11071
Des Moines, IA 50336-1071
(800) 947-7700

Bell & Howell Information and Learning (formerly University Microfilms International, or UMI)
300. N. Zeeb Road
P.O. Box 1346
Ann Arbor, MI 48106-1346
(800) 521-0600 x2873

Brookline Books
P.O. Box 38147
Cambridge, MA 02238-1047
(800) 666-2665

Canter and Associates
P.O. Box 66926
Los Angeles, CA 90066-0926
(800) 262-4347; (310) 395-3221

Center for Applied Research in Education
c/o Pearson Education
200 Old Tappan Road
Old Tappan, NJ 07675
(800) 922-0579

Center for Disability Information and Referral
Indiana Institute on Disability and Community
Attn: Publications Department
2853 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47408-2696
(812) 855-6508
(812) 855-9396 (TTY)

Center for Education and Lifelong Learning, see Center for Disability Information and Referral.

Copyright Clearance Center
222 Rosewood Drive
Danvers, MA 01923
(978) 750-8400

Corwin Press, Inc.
2455 Teller Road
Thousand Oaks, CA 91320
(805) 499-0721

Council for Exceptional Children (CEC)
1110 North Glebe Road, Suite 300
Arlington, VA 22201-5704
(888) 232-7733
(703) 264-9446 (TTY)

Covington Cove Publications
5620 Covington Road
Shorewood, MN 55331
(952) 470-0297

Free Spirit Publishing
217 Fifth Avenue North, Suite 200
Minneapolis, MN 55401-1299
(800) 735-7323 (for orders); (612) 338-2068

Inclusion Notebook (published 4 times per year)
Pennycorner Press
Post Box 8
Gilman, CT 06336
(860) 873-3545

Love Publishing
9101 East Kenyon Avenue, Suite 2200
Denver, CO 80237
(303) 221-7333

LRP Publications
747 Dresher Road
P.O. Box 980
Horsham, PA 19044-0980
(800) 341-7874; (215) 784-0860

Master Teacher
Leadership Lane
P.O. Box 1207
Manhattan, KS 66505-1207
(800) 669-9633

Merrill, contact Allyn & Bacon.

National Association of State Directors of Special Education
1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 320
Alexandria, VA 22314
(703) 519-3800

Paul H. Brookes
P.O. Box 10624
Baltimore, MD 21285-0624
(800) 638-3775

Peytral Publications
P.O. Box 1162
Minnetonka, MN 55345
(877) 739-8725; (952) 949-8707

Pro-Ed, Inc.
8700 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, TX 78757-6897
(800) 897-3202; (512) 451-3246

Queue, Inc.
c/o Instructivision
3 Regent Street, Suite 306
Livingston, NJ 07039
(973) 992-9081

NICHCY’s Resources You Can Use is published several times a year in response to questions from individuals and organizations. For further information and assistance, or to receive a NICHCY Publications Catalog, contact NICHCY, P.O. Box 1492, Washington, DC 20013. Telephone: 1-800-695-0285 (Voice/TTY) and (202) 884-8200 (Voice/TTY). Visit us at our Web site ( or e-mail us at

NICHCY thanks Dr. Peggy Cvach, our Project Officer at the Office of Special Education Programs, U.S. Department of Education. We also would like to express our deep appreciation to Dr. Jane Williams for her thorough and thoughtful compilation of this resource list.

Director . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    Suzanne Ripley
Editor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Lisa Küpper
Author. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jane M. Williams, Ph.D., University of Nevada, Las Vegas

This information is copyright free. Readers are encouraged to copy and share it, but please credit the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities (NICHCY). Please share your ideas and feedback with our staff by writing to the Editor.


*Please note: at time of publication all links were current. To maintain the fidelity of the original resource, we have kept the links to show original sources.

Publication of this document is made possible through Cooperative Agreement H326N980002 between the Academy for Educational Development and the Office of Special Education Programs of the U.S. Department of Education. The contents of this document 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.

The Academy for Educational Development, founded in 1961, is an independent, nonprofit service organization committed to addressing human development needs in the United States and throughout the world. In partnership with its clients, the Academy seeks to meet today’s social, economic, and environmental challenges through education and human resource development; to apply state-of-the-art education, training, research, technology, management, behavioral analysis, and social marketing techniques to solve problems; and to improve knowledge and skills throughout the world as the most effective means for stimulating growth, reducing poverty, and promoting democratic and humanitarian ideals.