Which Assistive Technology Suits the IEP: Accommodation or Adaption?

Page content


Assistive technology that is utilized in school and at home can be classified into two types: accommodation and adaptation. By ascertaining whether a special student needs accommodation or adaptation, the teacher can better identify the assistive technology devices that must be acquired and the services that must be conducted by the school.

Accommodation and adaptation devices are similar in terms of goals for the special student. Both types of assistive technology aim to help the special student to accomplish classroom tasks despite having limitations on their physical and mental capacities. The benefits of using both types of technology can be enjoyed only they are used properly and effectively. And here ends the similarity of accommodation and adaptation devices.


Adaptation devices are designed and manufactured with individuals suffering from disabilities in mind. For example, a powered wheelchair is designed to enable a person with certain types of physical disabilities to move from one place to another with relative ease and speed. This wheelchair might be utilized temporarily for persons with a short-term physical inability or it might be used for a significantly long period of time for persons who have a permanent physical disability, such as those who suffer from severe spastic diplegia, a type of cerebral palsy that affects the body’s lower extremities.


Accommodation devices, on the other hand, are those that can be used by everyone, with or without disabilities. For example, the calculator is a mathematical electronic device that can benefit both the special student and the regular student. In an inclusion classroom, the teacher can accommodate a special student with dyslexia or dyscalculia to utilize the calculator while solving math problems. But the regular students, in order to develop mental computation skills, are not allowed to use calculators.


Given a student with special needs, the teacher can first make a survey of available devices in the classroom. The use of these devices can be modified to “accommodate” the special students. Then, an evaluation of the special student will bring to light the adaptation devices that are needed. This way, the teacher can help maximize the school’s resources as well as acquire the necessary assistive technology.