ONLINE COURSE: Learning to Achieve Accommodations Discussion Thread

This thread is intended to provide a place for users who have completed the Learning to Achieve: Accommodations course with a space to reflect on the course content. The course content was updated in early 2019 and will be made available in spring 2019. Please stay tuned for the launch of the updated course. 

We hope you enjoyed the Learning to Achieve: Accommodations course. Please use this thread to share:

Of all the concepts and ideas discussed in this course:

  • Which were new to you?
  • Which ideas stood out as most important for you and your practice in supporting adults with LD in your classroom?
  • What are some specific strategies from this course that you feel you can readily incorporate to help your adult students with LD?

What other strategies or resources have you used in providing accommodations for your adult students with LD, and how effective were they?


The updated L2A Accommodations course has definitely fleshed out the UDL section and has provided more resources throughout the course.  I will be spending time crawling through those resources to better understand what more is available for AE practitioners. 

 As a professional development provider for AE practitioners, I plan to update the various courses I oversee by interjecting the new information. Thank you, Pam DOC 

As a newbie to the adult ed world, I am realizing we must address both diagnosed and undiagnosed learning disabilities every day. Many students are slow to share a previous diagnosis and need for accommodations. Since all students are in the same classroom, I have tried various methods of universal accommodation to prevent embarrassment, including using closed captioning with video, reading aloud word problems and passages, and oral discussion along with written response. Honestly, I don't know whether, or not, any of it has been helpful. I do like the idea of universal design and hope to learn additional ways to make life easier for us all.

Hi, Michelle -

Congratulations on your first LINCS post, and welcome to the world of adult education!  I'm so glad to hear you are providing the types of accommodations you are, by simply thinking intentionally about how to incorporate Universal Design for Learning (UDL) into your instruction.  This IS making a difference for many of your students, whether diagnosed with a disability, or not.  Keep doing what you've done, asking questions, and learning from the LINCS courses.  We're here to support you!


Mike Cruse

Disabilities and Equitable Outcomes Moderator

Sometimes I have found upon intake of new students that it is important to identify issues that could be misinterpreted as a need for accommodations. Some students present with squinting, sitting very close to a monitor, and have to use the Zoom feature. These students may have vision deficiencies.  Students with poor handwriting skills may sometimes have had upper limb issues (previous arm fractures from sports) and may appear not to communicate well in writing. Loss of focus and hypersensitivities could be related to events occurring in the home (recent move or relocation causing lack of sleep; over the counter medications for mild medical conditions). It is so important to screen adult and juveniles carefully before sending them for accommodations screening.

I am very new to Adult Ed and all the various staff development. This is so very interesting. In regards to the questions:


1.)The steps of adults taking responsibility for their learning disability and accommodations is really new to me. I taught elementary school for 18 years. I also have a son with some disabilities. I wasn't aware of the steps that an adult should take to benefit their learning status;Self-determination, Self-disclosure, Self-advocacy

2.)The use of presentation accommodations and response accommodations stood out as ideas of importance and tools of practice.  They could truly support our adult education students to aspire success and minimize stressful working and testing habits.

3.)I will immediately encourage students to follow the steps to advocate for themselves and use presentation accommodation tools that we have in our facility to enhance student learning. Setting accommodations are something that we practice some, but we can improve upon.

B.)I have never had a student with a disclosed LD, since I have only worked here for about 10 weeks. I am a  part-time instructor as well as do testing. I do try to encourage students to use the tools on the computer and use the calculator. These are some sort of accommodations I am implementing I suppose.

I have  incorporated many of the accommodations discussed in the course.  I often give extended time, short breaks, and a quiet environment to facilitate learning.  The section on how adults access accommodations is very important.  Adults must be able to determine and disclose the problems they are experiencing and be an advocate for themselves.

As a relatively new Adult Ed instructor, I found the information to be very interesting and helpful.  I look forward to trying the instructional strategies suggested in the course with my students.

I am new this year to adult education after spending the past 20 years in elementary education so I must say that, while a lot of the accommodations were somewhat familiar to me due to my past experience, they were all new to some extent due to the application of them to the adult education situation. 

To me, the concept of universal design was the most important overall to what I am doing with my current students. If there weren't some types of issues, whether learning or otherwise, that had arisen while these individuals were in school the first time then they would have likely completed their education at that time and would not be utilizing our services at this time. Therefore, even without documented learning disabilities some accommodations in the way the materials are presented or tested seem like they would be necessary in order to ensure success for all students. 

The concept of Universal Design was new and of utmost interest to me as it is an all-inclusive design intended for all students, not just for students who may have learning disabilities.

I have worked in the field of adult education for many years but have had few, if any, students who would self-determine their need for accommodations.  I had prior knowledge of some of these students being in special education in the public school setting but did not "admit" to having any disability when doing the intake paperwork for admission to an adult education program.  The concept of students having a productive and realistic understanding of their strengths and weaknesses and being able to choose a pathway in life that is successful and satisfying is tantamount to their success in reaching their goals in an adult education setting.

In our setting, we have students complete a learning styles inventory to determine if they are visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learners.  We also do an analysis of attention challenges and an analysis of visual stress syndrome and follow through with adaptations and strategies.  My task is to facilitate students to become proactive in setting goals and steps to achieve those goals and to seek persistence in their achievement.

I want to have as many tools and strategies available to me to facilitate my students'  learning.  I want to explore the concept of Universal Design in more depth as this may help those with learning disabilities not feel so alienated from the other learners.


I found the presentation and response accommodation resources particularly helpful. I plan on sharing these resources with the staff in my program. I think the three steps to accessing accommodations are a useful reminder in working with adults with disabilities and how to guide them toward reaching their full potential. I'm wondering if there is a resource other than Voc Rehab for diagnostic testing.

I wish adults in ABE could be forthcoming in going through the stages of accessing self accommodation to help the adult educator to effectively use the appropriate UDL techniques. So far, most of the time, I have to identify the learning disabilities, and find the appropriate approach for the student to open up about it. Well, it may be better late than never, but it might take an unnecessarily long time before I identify the learning disability compared to the adult learner self-disclosing. Sometimes, I might not be able to identify it at all since I am not trained in that.

As an instructor in a corrections environment, I find many learners who have had LD designations in the past or have not been diagnosed. Many do not have readily available documentation. Two effective strategies for helping these learners are cooperative learning arrangements and alternative testing locations. Many will readily seek help from other learners once they feel confident enough to admit they have a problem. One of the issues most of them have is being easily distracted. Simply changing the testing location helps limit the distractions when this is possible. Classroom space is limited in this environment so this is sometimes more difficult than it seems. 

I am excited to read of specific things we can do in the classroom prior to GED accommodations/documentation and approval. Contrary to information obtained before, I will be utilizing my own instincts and knowledge to provide accommodations in all areas while students are learning.  A variety of presentation models, utilizing scribes more often, adapting the setting as needed will be encouraged in all classes that I coordinate.

Not sure what happened to my original post?... I enjoyed learning things that can be done in the classroom for our students while awaiting GED accommodations/documentation. I will be utilizing presentation, response, and setting accommodations and impress this upon my instructors.

The most interesting aspect of this course was the necessity of the adult to self-determine, self-disclose, and self-advocate. Parents often do this for their children, but adults have to speak up for themselves. It's up to the school to create the correct atmosphere for that to occur. Teachers can help with this too. For example, a teacher sees someone squinting, it would make sense to try to convince the student to move to the front of the class. We need to let students know that it is in their best interest to get what works best for them. 

I enjoyed this course, it was very clear and understandable.  What I liked most is the idea of Universal Design as it makes sense when you have limited time in the classroom to have as many accommodations already worked into the class, so things can flow more smoothly and each student is provided what they need to be able to do the work.  I believe there are times when still additional accommodations will be needed, but in general, if when planning and preparing my course material I use the Universal Design approach, many more students will have what they need at hand without a lot of interrupted time.  This should also help the students feel more confident in class as well. 

The Learning Disabilities and Accommodations course was insightful.  The Universal Design for Learning was perhaps the most interesting to me.  I have always had the belief that we must design lessons that will benefit all of our students.  This concept provided some validity to my thinking.  Knowing that the experts also agree that the one-size-fits all curriculum is not in the best interest of our students, this will continue to motivate me to apply the UDL design in my teaching.

I had not heard of Universal Design before this course.  I think it is a wonderful idea and very inclusive and conducive to a positive classroom.  I plan to be very aware of my students' needs in this area.

I had not heard of Universal Design before this course.  I believe that it will be a productive way to maintain a positive classroom and help me to be aware of my students' needs.

I, too, never remember the term Universal Design.  It's a great idea of using lots of different modalities to meet the needs of students, and that most all students can benefit from accommodations in the classroom.

None of the ideas were new to me, but it was good to be reminded of them. The one that stood out to me the most was the role the teacher plays in detecting LD in her classroom without having documentation. Early detection with students is important, and simple things like where a student sits in the classroom can have a large impact on student success. I think discussing student learning observation at my next instructor's meeting would be good tool to focus on.

As a retired college professors I have used many of these accommodations in my classroom. The struggle has been to use them when doing online instruction during the pandemic. I will discuss with my students what might work best when we are not physically in the same room and I have less options or control to modify resources or the environment. 

I am new to tutoring adults but have experience tutoring children in math and reading.  Most of the kids I tutored had significant learning disabilities.  Only some of them were identified in their school system.  As I start my training with adults, I expect specific learning disabilities will be likely, and it is helpful to learn about the different approaches that can be taken to help them achieve their goals.  


I did not know students were expected to seek out help for there disability because many spend so much effort hiding it and for those who cannot read or write this becomes challenging. I did not know dictation and Braille books and material were available as well as book sharing. This is wonderful since most students do not have the financial means to buy books etc. I will be using the book sharing and read out loud accommodations for my illiterate students most who have dyslexia.

Which ideas stood out as most important? It seemed to me that Presentation Accommodations should include text-to-speech software to learners with LD. Learning can be hindered without reading fluency. So to counter frustration and improve learning, I will investigate and use the options for text-to-speech provided in the course: Balabolka, Natural Reader, etc. In addition, there are other read aloud options available. Videos on (New York Online Virtual Electronic Library) have the CC (Closed Captioning) function that can be turned on, as well as articles that can be read to the learner.  

What other strategies/resources have you used? I have used It requires a subscription. Learners can have the newspaper read to them sentence by sentence, or the whole article without stopping. Its usefulness can depend on the learner's computer/mouse skills and also on areas of individual interest. It's written for adults at a reading level of 3-6. Some articles are written at reading level 3, others at 4-6.

I look forward to using these excellent strategies.  They are helpful accommodations to a world where you are not a native speaker even if you are not identified as having a learning disability! 

One thing I'd love to see more of is learning to help students with the process of self-determination, self-disclosure and self-advocacy.  In particular, I think there can be some tricky cultural issues with this model, and I would appreciate a unit on that.

The idea that an adult learner can take control to self determine, self disclose and self advocate in pursuing their learning goals opens opportunities for instructors to create learning opportunities. Universal Design in the classroom and curriculum is essential and exciting to help all learners especial adults with learning disabilities.  Due to pandemic our students have quickly had to adapt to online learning which provides many opportunities to incorporate strategies like e-readers but also challenges for adults who have never used computers, tablets, mobile phones for education. 

Some of the adaptive accommodations were new to me. The texting especially.

I feel confident that our organization will have tutors take these trainings on an as needed basis.

Pleased I took the course and am learning about the opportunities to communicate with others on a broad range of topics.

As a former graduate of Adult Education that recently turned employee, I did not realize how important it is to identify, strategize, and create effective learning plans for students with learning disabilities. The thing that stood out the most to me is that the setting of testing can effect some students. I did not know something as little as a pen or books on a bookshelf could be a distraction. I think this is a very important thing to consider, especially when placing students in class. I think we could incorporate all of the accommodations that was used in this training for our students. 

 I have not personally worked with students with a learning disability but, I have observed another teacher working with  students that have a learning disability. Some strategies that she would use is group work. She also had other tools to help students that needed to hear themselves read. I found these very effective because they helped the student be able to talk their way through a problem or they would be able to listen to what they said. This ensures that the student can understand the topic better by hearing what they are saying. 

As my classroom is multi level and multi lingual, I always strive to use a variety of modalities.  If we don't attempt to recognize and see the need for doing this, some students will choose not to attend class.  The emphasis on self-disclosure & self-advocacy in the course suggested to me, that I should be more vigilant in these areas.

I  have been teaching adult education for 19 years and had no background in special education. Through the years I have lovingly and struggled my way through to help my students obtain the accommodations they need. This course reinforced my knowledge. Our students need them to make their way in this complicated world!

These courses provide great information and modeling scenarios. The problem is a 1 hour course takes 2 hours to complete. I cannot find the Course Conclusion and Resource header to print the certificate of completion at the end of the course. I have a coworker who is having the same difficulty.

Most of these strategies were familiar but it is good to be reminded to present and allow varied types of student responses.

I will incorporate reading aloud to students who need it.  

I was most interested in learning about advocacy groups and resources since I have students who need accommodations but to know how to go about getting them.  I will be looking for affordable testing options for these students.  

This self-paced course was quite informative. It dissected in depth the types of accommodations and how to incorporate them. I will now be able to incorporate some techniques that I wasn't aware of or totally comfortable with using. 

Accessing accommodations was something new to me, and is very important. I have had success in using presentation accommodations as well as seating and math accommodations. My goals now after taking this self-paced course are to place more emphasis in alternative response and scheduling/timing accommodations.