Classroom Accommodations for Dyslexic Students

Note: This information was taken from Bright Solutions for Dyslexics and modified to fit the needs of our overseas parents.

What is an Accommodation?

A change in the way a teacher:

  • presents information
  • tests students
  • has students practice new skills –

so that every student has a chance to succeed.

Accommodations Are Fair

  • Fair does not mean treating every student exactly the same.
  • Fair means providing each student with what that student needs to have a chance to succeed.

Dyslexic Students Need:

A teacher who

  • understands their frustration.
  • understands that their difficulties are due to an inherited brain difference.
  • will not give up on them.
  • will not make them look stupid in front of their friends.

To Reduce Fear & Anxiety:

  • Never force them to participate in a spelling bee.
  • Never force them to read out loud in class.
  • Never have them write on the board.
  • Don’t pass papers down the row.
  • Don’t allow other students to grade papers or tests.
  • Never call on them unless they volunteer.
  • Make sure your classroom is a safe place to make mistakes.

Accommodations for Reading

  • Allow another student to read the needed assignment aloud to the student.*
  • During silent sustained reading, allow students to either just read or to listen and read.

Accommodations for Spelling

Our students can’t learn to spell by memorizing, nor can they learn to spell by writing a word 50 times. So:

  • Don’t grade their spelling tests.
  • Don’t put a spelling grade on their report card. Leave that area blank.
  • Ignore spelling mistakes on written assignments. Grade on content, not mechanics.
  • Don’t force them to use a traditional dictionary. Allow electronic spell checkers instead.

Accommodations for Handwriting

No notetaking:

  • Provide a peer notetaker with Carbonless Notebook paper.
  • The teacher provides photocopies of her notes and whatever was on the board
  • Record the class

No copying out of the book:

  • Someone else copies problems out of the book.
  • Photocopy the page of problems. The student writes answers on the photocopy.

No handwritten assignments:

  • Have the student dictate written assignments:
    • to a classroom aide.
    • to a parent or volunteer.
    • into a recording device of some kind.
    • into a PC using voice recognition software.
  • Accept typed assignments created on a
    • portable keyboard (AlphaSmart Pro).
    • laptop computer.
    • classroom computer.

Accommodations for Written Expression

  • Provide alternatives to written reports such as creating a video or mural or doing a class presentation.
  • Make writing reports a team project.

Accommodations for Homework

  • Shorten homework assignments. Parents can act as timekeepers.
  • Avoid sending home unfinished classroom work. Shorten classroom assignments instead.
  • Be consistent when assigning homework.
  • Provide a way for parents to determine the homework assignment:
    • Homework buddies
    • Mail home the assignment sheet
    • Answering machine
  • Be consistent when collecting homework.
  • Notify the parent immediately if the assignment was not turned in; don’t count it late if a parent can find it.

Accommodations for Memory

  • A calculator or printed copy of multiplication tables.
  • Ask two-choice questions instead of open-ended questions.

Accommodations for Test Anxiety

  • Conduct an oral review session during class.
  • Provide a sample test.
  • Allow open-book and open-notes tests or allow students to bring one page of notes to the test
  • Allow oral testing or the teacher can record the test. The student listens to each question and then dictates each answer into a second device.
  • If oral testing is not feasible, give extended time or let the student complete the test at home under parental supervision. Shortening the test is another option.
  • If ADD/ADHD, allow the test to be taken in a distraction-free room.

Test Formats:

Easiest: draw a line from question to answer
Easy: fill in the blank IF a list of possible answers is printed on the test
Hard: Multiple-choice (too much reading)
Harder: fill-in-the-blank
Hardest: Essay test


  • Grade shortened assignments or tests as number of correct answers divided by number of problems answered
  • If any student gets a poor grade on a test: allow student to retake the test or allow student to earn extra credit
  • Offer many small quizzes rather than one or two big exams
  • Don’t ever flunk a student who participates and tries

For Parents

To Get These Accommodations:

  • Pick the 3 or 4 most important ones.
  • Discuss them with the student to make sure you’ve got the important ones.
  • If your child has an I.E.P. or 504 Plan:
    • Write a letter asking for a meeting to modify the plan.
    • Add the accommodations to the plan.
    • Also add your child’s strengths and interests.
    • List ways they will be used in the classroom.
  • If your child does NOT have an I.E.P. or 504 Plan,
    • Ask for a parent-teacher meeting.
    • In a friendly manner, explain your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
    • Ask all of his teachers to try the 3-4 accommodations you’re requesting for one month .
    • Hold a follow-up meeting to check on results.
    • Once those accommodations are working, ask for a few more.

Be Proactive

  • Each year, meet with your child’s new teachers as early in the year as possible.
  • Explain your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Share the accommodations that worked well the prior year.
  • Ask the new teachers to continue those accommodations.