Occupational Therapy Assistant Department
Technical Standards

Technical Standards and Essential Functions

Health Sciences programs establish technical standards essential functions to insure that students have the abilities required to participate and potentially be successful in all aspects of the respective programs. Students are required to meet technical standards and essential functions for the OTA program as indicated below. If the student is unable to meet all of the outlined standards, he/she may be withdrawn from the program.

The following technical standards and essential functions outline reasonable expectations of a student in the OTA Program for the performance of common safe therapeutic functions. The OTA student must be able to apply the knowledge and skills necessary to function in a variety of classroom, lab and clinical situations while providing the essential competencies of occupational therapy intervention. These requirements apply for the purpose of admission and continuation in the program.

The student must demonstrate the following abilities:

Categories of Essential Functions
Example of Technical Standard


Ability to participate actively in all demonstrations, laboratory exercise, and clinical experiences in the professional program component and to assess and comprehend the condition of all clients assigned to him/her for data collection for assessments and evaluation, screening, intervention, and contribution to discharge. Such observation and information usually requires functional use of visual, auditory, and somatic sensations.


  • Able to read print on LED display on therapeutic instruments for assessment and intervention.
  • Able to visually discriminate postural, sensorimotor, musculoskeletal, and color changes.
  • Recognize and interpret facial expressions and body language.
  • Able to assess and manipulate the environment at varied distances.


  • Receive, assess, and interpret verbal communication from clients, families, fellow students and staff.
  • Respond appropriately to call bells, emergency alarms, and auditory timers.
  • Distinguish between normal and abnormal blood pressure readings.


  • Palpate a pulse and detect changes or abnormalities of surface texture, skin, muscle tone, and temperature.
  • Palpate and manipulate bony landmarks of upper and lower extremities in preparation for activity engagement.


Observation of change in client vital sign status before, during, and after occupational engagement.


Ability to communicate effectively in English using verbal, non-verbal and written formats with academic and clinical faculty, students, clients, families and all members of the healthcare team.
  • Sensitively and effectively elicit and assess verbal and non- verbal information while engaging in intervention with clients, families, and colleagues.
  • Recognize, interpret, and respond to non-verbal communications.
  • Effectively articulate verbal and written information to clients, families, staff, instructors and fellow students in both academic and clinic settings.
  • Receive, write and interpret written communication in both academic and clinic settings.
  • Demonstrate active listening skills.
  • Present and receive feedback in academic and clinical settings in a professional manner.
Example: Given a scenario the student may present a treatment plan with rationale and role play with documentation.


Sufficient motor ability to execute the movement and skills required for safe and effective therapeutic intervention and emergency treatment as necessary.
  • Demonstrate stability, mobility, balance, strength and agility to assist and safeguard clients during transfers and daily, relevant, meaningful activities.
  • Be able to safely lift up to 50 lbs.
  • Safely lift, move, adjust, transfer, or position clients and equipment using proper body mechanics.
  • Provide emergency treatment and follow emergency protocol both in academic and clinic settings when necessary.
  • Stand or sit for sufficient periods of time to actively engage in academic, lab, and clinical activities (may be up to 8 to 10 hours per day).
  • Demonstrate manual dexterity and coordination necessary to manipulate equipment and perform therapeutic procedures in such therapeutic interventions as splinting, wheelchair adjustment, feeding, or orthotics and prosthetics.


Ability to collect, interpret and integrate information. Ability to demonstrate clinical reasoning.

  • Read, comprehend, and retain relevant information in textbooks, class presentations, medical records and professional literature.
  • Integrate, retain, and synthesize information to effective problem solve.
  • Exercise sound clinical judgment and complete tasks within required time limits.
  • Apply knowledge to both academic and clinical situations and problem solve using clinical reasoning.
  • Utilize effective teaching and learning techniques and test taking strategies.

Behavioral and Social Attributes

Possess the emotional health and stability necessary to exercise sound clinical judgment and develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with clients, their families, and other members of the health care team.

Possess the ability to tolerate taxing workloads, function effectively under stress, adapt to changing environments, display flexibility, and learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical settings with patients.

Possess compassion, integrity, concern for others. Demonstrate respect for academic and clinical instructors.

Demonstrate professional behaviors and a strong work ethic.
  • Manage time, energy, and flexibility within heavy academic schedules and deadlines in academic, clinic and home environments.
  • Demonstrate flexibility during client, environmental, or situational change.
  • Demonstrate emotional health needed to sustain professional behavior under physical and emotional stress.
  • Acknowledge and respect individual values and opinions.
  • Demonstrates sensitivity to cultural differences within academic, clinic, and community settings.
  • Demonstrate a concern for others, appropriate interpersonal skills, interest and motivation.
  • Accept responsibility and accountability for one’s own actions.
  • Comply with the Practice Rules and Practice Act of the Texas Board of Occupational Therapy Examiners and the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Standards of Practice and the Code of Ethics.

Safety Possess the ability to ensure the physical, biological, and/or emotional safety of the patient, caregiver, students, staff, instructors, or self during academic and clinical duties.

Physical Safety:

  • Protect patient(s), students, and staff appropriately to avoid falls, lacerations, burns, new or further injury
  • Properly identify patient(s) prior to initiating care.
  • Utilize side rails, wheelchairs, and other equipment safely during patient and lab activities.

Biological Safety:

  • Seek assistance when needed.
  • Implement aseptic techniques appropriately for infection control.
  • Refrain from attending clinical rotations when ill.

Emotional Safety:

  • Behave in a manner that enables patients, students, and staff feel safe; avoid threatening behaviors.
  • Demonstrate stable emotional behaviors.

Qualified applicants with disabilities are encouraged to apply to the program. It is the responsibility of the student to contact the Student Accessibility Services (SAS) Office if they feel they cannot meet one or more of the technical standards listed. Students can obtain complete information from the SAS website at http://www.austincc.edu/support-and-services/services-for-students/student-accessibility-services-and-assistive-technology   or through the Student Accessibility Services (SAS) office on the campus where they expect to take the majority of their classes; for locations see http://www.austincc.edu/support-and-services/services-for-students/student-accessibility-services-and-assistive-technology