Maryland Statewide Individualized Education Program (IEP) Process Guide July 2017  

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Section III: Special Considerations and Accommodations

IDEA 2004 emphasizes the involvement of students with disabilities in the general curriculum, including appropriate preschool activities, with nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate. Federal statute 20 U.S.C. §1414(d)(IV) requires the IEP to include a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the student to:

  • Advance appropriately toward attaining his or her annual goals;
  • Be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum;
  • Participate in extracurricular and other non-academic activities; and
  • Be educated and participate with other students with and without disabilities.

Special Considerations

In accordance with 34 C.F.R. §300.324(a)(2) and COMAR 13A.05.01.08A(3) through(7) the student's IEP team shall consider the following special circumstances, as applicable, when the student's IEP is developed, reviewed, or revised:

  • In the case of a student whose behavior impedes the student’s learning or that of others, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior;
  • In the case of a student who is an English Learning, consider the language needs of the student as those needs relate to the student's IEP;
  • In the case of a student who is blind or visually impaired, provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP team determines, after an evaluation of the student’s reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the student's future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille), that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the student;
  • Consider the communication needs of the student;
  • In the case of a student who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the student's language and communication needs, opportunities for direct communications with peers and professional personnel in the student's language and communication mode, academic level, and full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the student's language and communication mode; and
  • Consider whether the student needs assistive technology devices and services.

Each public agency must ensure that assistive technology devices or assistive technology services, or both are made available to a student with a disability if needed as a part of the student’s:

  • Special education;
  • Related services; or
  • Supplementary aids, services, program modifications, and supports.

On a case-by-case basis, the use of school-purchased assistive technology devices in a student’s home or in other settings is required if the student’s IEP Team determines that the student needs access to those devices in order to receive FAPE. Each public agency must ensure that hearing aids worn in school by students with hearing impairments, including deafness, are functioning properly.


Accommodations must be specific and appropriate to meet the needs of the student as defined in the IEP. Accommodations are practices or procedures that provide a student with a disability equitable access during instruction and to assessments in the areas of: presentation response; setting; and scheduling. Accommodations do not reduce learning expectations. Accommodations include changes to instruction (such as materials, content enhancements, and tasks) that change how a student learns. Accommodations may include assistive technology devices and services.


Modifications are practices or procedures that change, lower, or reduce learning expectations. Modifications can increase the gap between the achievement of students with disabilities and expectations for proficiency at a particular grade level. Using modifications may result in implications that could adversely affect students throughout their educational career. Modifications include changes to the content, which affect what the student learns. Modifications include curricular changes in the content standards or the performance expectations. A continuum of accommodations should be used and evaluated for their effectiveness before moving to modifications.


When the IEP team determines the services the student will receive, it must also:

  • Consider the supplementary aids, services the student requires; and
  • The program modifications and supports required for school personnel to implement the IEP.

Many accommodations are effective instructional practices and are used for all students by effective teachers. However, it should be noted that the distinction between effective instructional strategies and accommodations is that accommodations are the specific practices or procedures the individual student needs, and must have, as a result of his or her disability, in order to be involved and progress in general education curriculum.


Conversely, not all effective instructional strategies, although they enhance the instruction of the student with a disability, are necessary to address the student’s needs. IEP teams should be judicious in the decisions regarding accommodations, assistive technology, and modifications in order to ensure that the selection specifically addresses the learning needs of an individual student as they relate to the student's disability and the student's participation and progress in general education curriculum, appropriate preschool activities, extra-curricular and non-academic activities, and participation with students without disabilities and nondisabled peers, as appropriate.