Accommodations: What they are and how they work

By Andrew M.I. Lee, JD

People who learn and think differently often face barriers to learning and getting work done. But schools, workplaces, and society can make changes to remove these barriers so everyone can do their best work.

These changes are called accommodations. In many cases, accommodations are legally required to give equal access to people with disabilities.

Accommodations don’t change what students learn in school. Nor do they change what job responsibilities people have. They change how people learn and how people get their work done.

Accommodations also don’t change the expectations for performance. They simply offer support to account for challenges.

For example, students might get extra time to read through a word problem. But they don’t get fewer problems or easier ones. And they still must take the same exams and finish the same assignments as other students.

It’s similar in the workplace. Employees might get a written list of tasks with deadlines. But they must still complete the key responsibilities of the job.

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    About the author

    About the author

    Andrew M.I. Lee, JD is an editor and attorney who strives to help people understand complex legal, education, and parenting issues.

    Reviewed by

    Reviewed by

    Meghan Casey Whittaker, JD is the policy and advocacy manager at the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD).