Technical Standards

Technical Standards for Admission and Continuation in the Occupational Therapy Program

Stony Brook University (SBU) complies with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act. All applicants and students are held to the same technical and academic standards of admissions and training. If a prospective student who is otherwise qualified requires a reasonable accommodation, they should contact Disability Support Services at SBU. Technical standards must be met with or without accommodations.



The technical standards outlined below (“Technical Standards”), in conjunction with established academic standards, are followed by the Admissions Committee to select students possess the intelligence, integrity, physical, and personal as well as emotional characteristics that are necessary to become an effective occupational therapist. The Program and sponsoring institution must maintain the integrity of the curriculum and preserve those elements deemed essential to the education of an occupational therapist. The program and sponsoring institution cannot compromise the health and safety of others and reserve the right not to admit any applicant who cannot meet the technical standards or who would constitute a direct threat to the health and safety of others, e.g., those individuals who are currently impaired by alcohol or substance abuse cannot meet the Technical Standards.

Granting of the occupational therapy degree signifies that the holder is prepared for entry into the practice of occupational therapy. Therefore it follows that graduates must have the knowledge and skills to practice in a broad variety of clinical situations and to render a wide spectrum of patient care. Candidates must also have the physical and emotional stamina to function in a competent manner in educational and practice settings that may involve heavy workloads and stressful situations. Accordingly, candidates for the degree must be able to perform specific essential functions that the faculty deem requisite for the practice of occupational therapy. These functions, expressed as technical standards, fall into several broad categories, including: observation, communication, motor, conceptual, integrative, quantitative, behavioral, and social.


The occupational therapist performs the following tasks:

  • Complete and maintain necessary records.
  • Evaluate patients’ progress and prepare reports that detail progress.
  • Test and evaluate patients’ physical and mental abilities and analyze medical data to determine realistic rehabilitation goals for patients.
  • Select activities that will help individuals learn work and life-management skills within limits of their mental and physical capabilities.
  • Plan, organize, and conduct occupational therapy programs in hospital, institutional, or community settings to help rehabilitate those impaired because of illness, injury or psychological or developmental problems.
  • Recommend changes in patients’ work or living environments, consistent with their needs and capabilities.
  • Consult with rehabilitation team to select activity programs and coordinate occupational therapy with other therapeutic activities.
  • Help clients improve decision-making, abstract reasoning, memory, sequencing, coordination and perceptual skills, using computer programs.
  • Develop and participate in health promotion programs, group activities, or discussions to promote client health, facilitate social adjustment, alleviate stress, and prevent physical or mental disability.
  • Provide training and supervision in therapy techniques and objectives for students and nurses and other medical staff.
  • Design and create, or requisition, special supplies and equipment, such as splints, braces, and computer-aided adaptive equipment.
  • Plan and implement programs and social activities to help patients learn work and school skills and adjust to handicaps.
  • Lay out materials such as puzzles, scissors and eating utensils for use in therapy, and clean and repair these tools after therapy sessions.
  • Advise on health risks in the workplace and on health-related transition to retirement.
  • Conduct research in occupational therapy.
  • Provide patients with assistance in locating and holding jobs as part of an emerging area of practice.


The occupational therapist has knowledge of the following:

  • Principles, methods, and procedures for diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical and mental dysfunctions.
  • Human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction of individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
  • Information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • Group behavior and dynamics, societal trends and influences, human migrations, ethnicity, cultures and their history and origins.
  • Relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
  • Computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
  • Business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
  • Administrative tasks, procedures and systems such as word processing, managing files and records, billing, transcription, designing forms, and other office procedures and terminology.
  • Principles and methods for marketing and promoting products, services, and the profession. This includes marketing strategy and tactics, product demonstration, and advertising techniques.
  • Media production, communication, and dissemination techniques and methods. These include alterative ways to inform others via written, verbal, non-verbal, visual and virtual media.
  • Laws, legal codes, court procedures, precedents, government regulations, executive orders, agency rules, and the democratic political process related to the profession and advocacy for consumers.
  • Principles and procedures for personnel recruitment, selection, training, compensation and benefits, labor relations and negotiation, and personnel information systems.
  • Different philosophical systems and religions, including basic principles, values, ways of thinking, customs, practices, and their impact on human culture.
  • Practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
  • Design techniques, tools, and their principles involved in production of precision technical plans, blueprints, drawings, and models.
  • Machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
  • Economic and accounting principles and practices, the financial markets, banking, and the analysis and reporting of financial data.
  • Principles and methods for designing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
  • Historical events and their causes, indicators, and effects on civilizations and cultures.
  • Structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.


The occupational therapist has the skills and/or abilities to do the following:

  • Give full attention to what other people are saying, take time to understand the points being made, ask questions when appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Use logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions, or approaches to problems.
  • Understand the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Adjust actions in relation to others’ actions.
  • Monitor/assess performance of self, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or to take corrective action.
  • Use scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
  • Watch gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine works properly, according to established safe practices.
  • Communicate information and ideas verbally so others will understand.
  • Communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
  • Apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
  • Speak clearly so others can understand you.
  • Read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • See details at close range (e.g., within a few feet of the observer).
  • Generate multiple numbers of ideas about a topic.
  • Quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
  • Use abdominal and lower back muscles to support part of the body repeatedly or continuously over time without “giving out” or fatiguing, including the ability to lift 50 pounds from the floor to table height.
  • Choose the correct mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
  • Bend, stretch, twist, or reach with your body, arms, and/or legs.
  • Match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
  • Exert maximum physical force to lift, push, pull, or carry objects weighing up to 50 pounds
  • Maintain the exerting physical force over long periods of time without getting winded or out of breath.
  • Perform mathematical tasks of addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division quickly and correctly.
  • Exert muscle force repeatedly or continuously over time. This involves muscular endurance and resistance to muscle fatigue.
  • Maintain or regain your body balance or stay upright when in an unstable postural position.
  • Know your location in relation to the environment or know where other objects are in relation to you.
  • Choose quickly between two or more movements in response to two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures).This includes the speed with which the correct response is started with the hand, foot, or other body part.
  • Use short bursts of muscle force to propel oneself (as in jumping or sprinting), or to throw an object.
  • See objects or movement of objects to one’s side when the eyes are looking straight ahead.
  • Identify the direction from which a sound originated.
  • See objects in the presence of glare or bright lighting.
  • Perform tasks under low light conditions.
  • Quickly and repeatedly bend, stretch, twist, or reach out with your body, arms and/or legs.
  • Respond quickly (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
  • Make fast, simple, repeated movements of the fingers, hands, and wrists.
  • Quickly move the arms and legs.
  • Develop constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintain them over time.
  • Enter, transcribe, record, store, or maintain information in written, electronic/magnetic, and/or virtual form.
  • Perform physical activities that require considerable use of your arms and legs and moving your whole body, such as climbing, lifting, balancing, walking, stooping, and handling of materials. This includes being able to apply physical restraint when indicated, and to lift 50 pounds from floor to table.
  • Identify information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
  • Identify the principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts. This includes the ability to analyze medical data, analyze patient activity, evaluate patient response to treatment, and complete course work/assignments.
  • Use computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
  • Participate in face-to-face discussions.
  • Be in close physical proximity, and in physical contact with others.
  • Determine tasks, priorities, and goals that pertain to school and clinical site assignments and requirements.
  • Coordinate or lead others as necessary for class assignments in accomplishing work activities in professional activities and clinical assignments.
  • Consider the impact of decisions on classmates and team members.
  • Meet multiple deadlines in the classroom and while on clinical assignments.
  • Recognize the importance of being exact or accurate.
  • Spend time standing for up to 90 minutes.
  • Wear common protective or safety equipment such as safety shoes, glasses, gloves, hearing protection, hard hats, or life jackets when required in classes and at clinical sites.  
  • Understand the consequences of errors.
  • Spend time sitting for a minimum of 30 minutes.
  • Recognize responsibility for outcomes and results of assignments both in the classroom, and in the clinical setting.
  • Tolerate sounds and noise levels that are distracting or uncomfortable.
  • Spend time walking and running, depending on the requirements in the classroom or clinical setting.
  • Spend time bending or twisting the body
  • Send and receive e-mail.
  • Spend time kneeling, crouching, stooping, or crawling in order to perform tasks or complete assignments in the classroom or clinical setting.
  • Speak in front of a group of individuals.
  • Be honest and ethical, and demonstrate personal and professional integrity.
  • Fulfill all obligations in a reliable, responsible, and dependable manner.
  • Pay attention to detail, and perform school-related tasks in a thorough manner.
  • Analyze information and use logic to address school-related issues and problems.
  • Demonstrate a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction as needed in school and clinical settings.

Note:  These technical standards have been adapted the Occupational Information Network, O*NET On-Line.

Dale A. Coffin, Ed.D, OTR/L
Chairperson of the Occupational Therapy Program