SDIs in Virtual Learning Environments

Post #1: An Introduction to SSDVE and SDIs

By Cassie Brusch – Project Consultant

SSDVE Explained

Supporting Students with Disabilities in Virtual Environments (SSDVE) is a recent initiative with the purpose to provide training and technical assistance to educators that supports students with disabilities across virtual environments (hybrid, blended, fully online, etc).

The areas of focus include:  planning and designing for learning; assessing learners; multi-disciplinary, cross-grade, cross-curricular collaborative practices; and, engaging and empowering parents/guardians. 

Intro to the SDI Series

This series will highlight various SDIs and how they apply in virtual environments based on this resource from PaTTAN. Specially designed instruction (SDIs) are both accommodations (meet the specific instruction and assessments needs of the student) and modifications (change, lower, or reduce the learning expectations). As students have entered into more virtual environments, it’s important that our IEPs reflect the SDIs that are being implemented. PaTTAN has compiled this resource to support case managers as they write IEPs for the new educational landscape.

Graphic: What is an SDI?


PaTTAN breaks down what SDIs are and what they are not. This is a beneficial resource for new teachers.  SDIs are put in place to support the student’s access to the general education curriculum through addressing the student’s specific needs. SDIs are not educational placement or a specific program.

IDEA and the Modern Classroom

According to IDEA (2004), “Specially designed instruction means adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child under this part, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction— (i) To address the unique needs of the child that result from the child’s disability; and (ii) To ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that the child can meet the educational standards within the jurisdiction of the public agency that apply to all children.” 

It is important to recognize that the landscape of education has changed since 2004 and even more so in the last two years with greater implementation of distance and/or online learning.  Additionally, while most students are back in traditional classroom environments, there are still virtual learning environments within their educational platforms.  

This series will break down various SDIs that are commonly used and highlight the digital tools that can be used to implement them in a virtual environment. These tools can continue to be used within the traditional classroom as well through the LMS and other technology platforms. 

SSDVE is a new and developing area of education and I am excited to be a resource for our Montgomery County schools. While distance learning might not continue to be a focus of the post-COVID learning environment, virtual learning environments have established their place in the modern classroom. Let’s capitalize on the tools and resources we’ve learned in the past two years and continue to move our classrooms forward in support of all learners. 

More about support students with disabilities in Virtual Environments


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