Student Ability Profile: Richard

Student Abilities Profile 


Richard is an 18-year-old junior who loves math, computers, and cooking. He is profoundly deaf and has low muscle tone and some neurological problems similar to Autism. He does not speak. He is bright but reads two grade levels below his present class status. Richard communicates through sign language interpreters, written notes, and lipreading. Richard can get quite animated and disruptive at times. His self-esteem and self-advocacy skills are low.


Actively participate in science classroom and lab experiences, including lab manipulations.

Equipment: (lab equipment, furniture, protective clothing, chemicals, etc.)

A wide range of science equipment and materials are used in the science lab.

Environment: (facility, fumes, odors, dust, temperature, noise, lighting, etc.)

Many assignments are completed in groups.

Physical Challenges

  1. Difficulty lifting large objects.
  2. Difficulty pushing and pulling.
  3. Loses balance easily.
  4. Cannot stoop or crouch easily.

Potential Strategies / Accommodations

  • Provide assistance with manipulatives.
  • Have Richard work with a partner or in a group.
  • Repeat lab safety procedures periodically.


  • Consult with special education teacher, occupational therapists, IEP team members, and/or parents regarding strategies to address physical limitations.
  • Explore accommodation options at the AccessSTEM website.

Sensory Challenges

  1. Profoundly deaf.
  2. No oral communication.

Potential Strategies / Accommodations

  • Make sure you have his attention while speaking.
  • Speak directly to Richard.
  • Provide written material and explain procedures and written content.
  • Team him with another student.
  • Provide lab safety procedures in writing.
  • Work with sign language interpreters.


  • Consult with special education teacher and/or hearing specialist.
  • Explore accommodation options at the AccessSTEM website.

Cognitive Challenges

  1. Difficulty working through complex tasks.
  2. Low reading level.
  3. Low self-esteem.
  4. Poor self-advocacy skills.
  5. Exhibits disruptive behavior.

Potential Strategies / Accommodations

  • Talk to Richard about learning conditions that work best for him, try his suggestions, and together evaluate the results; encourage self-advocacy efforts.
  • Hold expectations high and praise accomplishments.
  • Pair him with a peer. Assure active participation.
  • Provide materials at appropriate reading level.
  • Provide special assistance with abstract concepts, using manipulatives whenever possible.
  • Provide computer with dictionary, thesaurus, spell-checker,and vocabulary-building components.


  • Consult with special education teacher, IEP team members, and/or parents regarding social and learning skills and support strategies.
  • Explore accommodation options at the AccessSTEM website.

Physical, Sensory, and Cognitive Issues and Challenges 

Physical Issues

Think of the required physical aspects of the task. What will make the environment accessible, keep the student safe and allow them to be an active participant? What lab equipment must be manipulated?

Physical Challenges

  1. lift / carry
  2. stamina / endurance
  3. push / pull
  4. kneel / squat
  5. reach
  6. repetitive tasks
  7. fine motor: pinch / grasp
  8. fine motor: manipulate / maneuver
  9. gross motor
  10. sit in chair
  11. walk / stand
  12. balance
  13. bend / twist
  14. stoop / crouch
  15. other

Sensory Issues

Think of room temperature, noise, fumes, dust, odors, and allergies. Also consider the ability to speak and/or communicate, and the visual aspects of the task or assignment.

Sensory Issues

  1. vision
  2. hearing
  3. touch
  4. smell
  5. taste
  6. oral communication
  7. temperature
  8. fumes
  9. external stimuli
  10. lighting
  11. other

Cognitive Issues

Is the assignment done with a group, partner or individually? What memory and communication skills are needed? What is the level of complexity of the task.

Cognitive Challenges

  1. short term memory
  2. long term memory
  3. task complexity
  4. reading
  5. writing
  6. spelling
  7. string of numbers (math)
  8. paying attention
  9. visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner.
  10. self-esteem / advocacy issues
  11. behavior issues / acting out
  12. other