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Detecting Memory Impairment in Deaf People: A New Test of Verbal Learning and Memory in British Sign Language

Denmark, T., Marshall, J., Mummery, C., Roy, P., Woll, B. and Atkinson, J. (2016). Detecting Memory Impairment in Deaf People: A New Test of Verbal Learning and Memory in British Sign Language. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 31(8), pp. 855-867. doi: 10.1093/arclin/acw032

Abstract

Objective

Most existing tests of memory and verbal learning in adults were created for spoken languages, and are unsuitable for assessing deaf people who rely on signed languages. In response to this need for sign language measures, the British Sign Language Verbal Learning and Memory Test (BSL-VLMT) was developed. It follows the format of the English language Hopkins Verbal Learning Test Revised, using standardized video-presentation with novel stimuli and instructions wholly in British Sign Language, and no English language requirement.

Method

Data were collected from 223 cognitively healthy deaf signers aged 50–89 and 12 deaf patients diagnosed with dementia. Normative data percentiles were derived for clinical use, and receiver-operating characteristic curves computed to explore the clinical potential and diagnostic sensitivity and specificity.

Results

The test showed good discrimination between the normative and clinical samples, providing preliminary evidence of clinical utility for identifying learning and memory impairment in older deaf signers with neurodegeneration.

Conclusions

This innovative video testing approach transforms the ability to accurately detect memory impairments in deaf people and avoids the problems of using interpreters, with international potential for adapting similar tests into other signed languages.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology following peer review. The version of record Denmark, T., Marshall, J., Mummery, C., Roy, P., Woll, B. & Atkinson, J. (2016). Detecting Memory Impairment in Deaf People: A New Test of Verbal Learning and Memory in British Sign Language. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology, 31(8), pp. 855-867 is available online at: https://doi.org/10.1093/arclin/acw032.
Publisher Keywords: Learning and Memory, Test construction, Dementia, Disability/handicaps, Mild cognitive impairment, Norms/normative studies
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Departments: School of Health Sciences > Language & Communication Science
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/16956
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