5 Common Accommodations and Modifications for Dyslexic Students


As a parent of a dyslexic student, you have likely considered looking into modifications and accommodations in the classroom for your child. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with what is available so that when it comes time for an IEP meeting, it’s a good idea to have a sense of what’s out there!

In this blog post, I will explain five common types of accommodations and how I think they might be useful for your dyslexic child. These accommodations are pretty standard across counties and are all offered in Fairfax County. This article is designed to give you an idea of what might be appropriate, but you must of course work with your child’s teachers, psychologists, tutors, and any other professionals who work with your child to determine what will be best for your child as an individual. There are many other types of modifications and accommodations available to students, and every student is different!

1.)    Extended Time

http://images.hayneedle.com/mgen/master:HMI231.jpgWhat it is:

Extended time can be on a small scale or on a large scale. One way to use this accommodation on a smaller scale is to give students longer periods on timed tests and allow them to finish after school, or to finish classwork as homework. On a larger scale, extended time can mean an additional two weeks to complete assignments for the quarter, or extended due dates on projects and papers.

What it does for dyslexic students:

Students with dyslexia have difficulty with decoding words and reading comprehension, which are obviously two skills that are necessary for most assignments in school. Although they may have received tutoring services such as Wilson Reading and have gotten to the point where they can access the text, severe dyslexics may always be slower readers and writers. Extended time gives dyslexics the opportunity to demonstrate what they know and what they can do rather than how strong of readers they are.

2.)    Pre-Written Notes or Lesson Outlines

What it is:

For this accommodation, students are given either a copy of the PowerPoint that the teacher is using, a written summary of the lecture, or an outline of the important information to be covered in the lesson.

What it does for dyslexic students:

This allows students to focus on the content that they are learning, rather than the process of recording the information. Dyslexics tend to have difficulty with spelling and writing down words accurately (and may also have dysgraphia), which can distract them from what the lesson is actually about. Having this information beforehand allows them to preview what they will be learning, anticipate transitions, and look for the most important information so that they aren’t bogged down with writing less important information.

3.)    Reduced Words Per Page/Large Print

What it is:

For this accommodation, dyslexic students are given the same material as the rest of the class, but have it printed either in a larger font or with more space in between words or lines.

What it does for dyslexic students:

Students who have visually-based dyslexia have difficulty isolating and interpreting letters as well as processing visual information. Having this accommodation reduces the amount of visual clutter on the page and allows students to be less distracted by the words around the word that they are currently reading, thereby allowing them to read more accurately and fluently the first time they encounter the text.

dyslexic student

4.)    Audio Recordings/Hearing Instructions Orally

What it is:

Some students may elect to record their entire lectures in class so that they can play them back again once they get home rather than reread their notes. Others may use audiobooks or recordings from the teacher to do their homework and study. Students who don’t need all of the information recorded may just need the directions given orally so that they can focus on correctly completing their assignments.

What it does for dyslexic students:

This technique is especially helpful for helping students learn challenging content. In addition to needing this so that they aren’t spending too much time trying to access the text, many dyslexics are excellent auditory learners. Having recordings enables students to focus solely on comprehending what they are learning without the frustration and distraction of trying to read a text that is above their level.

5.)   Graphic Organizers

What it is:

A graphic organizer is a tool that is used to organize information in a visual, logical manner. It can include charts, tables, diagrams, images, concept maps or webs, and even “foldables.” Most graphic organizers have some pre-completed information but also include areas for the student to fill in and write.

What it does for dyslexic students:

Graphic organizers are already used in most classes as they are an excellent teaching tool, but a dyslexic student may benefit from using them more frequently. They can be used to map out a structure for a student to write a paper, to lay out what information the student should be seeking in a text, or even to color-code types of information. Their highly visual nature is an especially helpful learning tool for students who have difficulty holding words in their mind.