Byrnes, M. (2008). Educators’ interpretations of ambiguous accommodations . Remedial and Special Education , 29 (5), 306–315.

Journal Article

Byrnes, M. (2008). Educators’ interpretations of ambiguous accommodations. Remedial and Special Education, 29(5), 306–315.


Dictated response; Dictated response (scribe); Extended time; K-12; Seat location/proximity; U.S. context




This exploratory case study examined interpretations of three frequently used accommodations: extended time, dictated response (scribe), and preferential seating.


Participants were general and special educators (N=242) in a suburban New England (U.S.) school district with an enrollment of slightly less than 4,000 students.

Dependent Variable

A single-sheet survey was sent to all faculty through interoffice mail, accompanied by a letter of support from district administration.


Although a majority of both groups agreed on interpretations of extended time, there was little agreement, considerable variation, and some contradiction in their understanding of the changes intended by scribing and preferential seating. Recommendations include suggestions for replacing ambiguous accommodations with functional descriptions, linking accommodations more directly with barriers presented by disabilities, and paying particular attention to ensuring that interpretations are shared as students move through their school experience. Limitations of the study were reported, and future research possibilities were suggested.