Assessing Children’s Proficiency in Natural Signed Languages

Jenny L. Singleton and Samuel J. Supalla

in The Oxford Handbook of Deaf Studies, Language, and Education, Volume 1, Second Edition

Second edition

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199750986
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Assessing Children’s Proficiency in Natural Signed Languages

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  • Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology



This chapter reviews published or known assessments of children’s language proficiency across a number of the world’s signed languages, including American Sign Language, British Sign Language, Australian Sign Language, Sign Language of the Netherlands, and German Sign Language. Critical issues in sign language assessment are also discussed, with special attention to possible threats to test reliability and validity. For example, test examiners may doubt the authenticity of the elicited language sample from a deaf, signing child, or test developers may question whether an adaptation of a spoken-language test is appropriate for use with deaf, signing children. The authors conclude that there remains a critical need in many countries for commercially available, and easy to administer, signed language proficiency assessments for use in research and education settings with deaf and hearing individuals.

Keywords: Sign language; assessment; language proficiency tests; deaf; hard-of-hearing; hearing loss

Article.  9835 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Developmental Psychology

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