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Accommodations of Disabilities in Basic Reading Skills

by Dr. Nesa Sasser

Reading accommodations help students maneuver through the reading curriculum without changing the rigor of the curriculum or testing materials. Four types of reading accommodations are allowed for students with disabilities. Presentation accommodations provide allowances for large print and other variables, whereas response accommodations allow students to respond in various ways. Setting accommodations allow for flexibility in the lighting of the testing area, and timing accommodations allow for classwork or tests to be given in shorter time spans.

Presentation Accomodations

Many students who have learning disabilities in reading benefit from reading accommodations that change the way reading materials are presented to them. "A critical part of teaching and assessing students with disabilities, then, is providing them with accommodations that support learning and that support their ability to show what they know and can do," according to a study by the National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities. Students may find comfort in having the answer choices or directions read to them, although the actual reading passages cannot be read to them. Visibility of the reading content may be enhanced by allowing students to use screen readers or highlighters to help them remember particular words or phrases in the text.

Response Accommodations

Response accommodations allow students to respond to reading assignments or tests in a variety of ways. Students are allowed to view a list of important vocabulary words before reading the text or respond to questions via computer text instead of writing answers to questions. Students may also be allowed to rewrite or reword information in their own words and discuss what is difficult for them to understand. Students may write in test booklets rather than record their responses on answer sheets, or they may choose to have a scribe record their responses for them.

Setting Accommodations

Students with disabilities in reading may need setting accommodations. Students may request preferential seating or students may be moved to settings with fewer distractions. Students who prefer accommodations in reading may also be provided with a private room or have the test administered in a small group to lessen anxieties.

Timing Accomodations

Time is an important aspect to all students with reading disabilities. Students may have extended time for classwork or be provided with more time to turn in homework. Extending testing over two days instead of one day is a viable accommodation for those students that need reading accommodations for testing. Frequent breaks and reordering the sequence of test questions is also a useful accommodation.

About the Author

Dr. Nesa Sasser has served as teacher, school counselor, principal, and college professor. She earned a BBA in accounting from Texas A&M University; an MS in counseling; and an Ed.D. in educational leadership both from Texas A&M Univeristy-Commerce. Her dissertation related to Teacher Quality and Alternative Certification in Texas.

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