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Assessments of Sign Language Development: New Insights

Herman, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-5732-9999 & Rowley, K. (2022). Assessments of Sign Language Development: New Insights. Croatian review of rehabilitation research, 58, pp. 98-108. doi: 10.31299/


Since the late nineties, several assessments to track and assess sign language acquisition in deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) children have been developed and standardised for some sign languages (Herman, Rowley, Mason, & Morgan, 2014; Rosenburg, Lieberman, Caselli, & Hoffmeister, 2020). These assessments have provided important insights into how DHH children acquire sign language and how acquisition can be impacted by developmental or acquired disorders (Mason et al., 2010; Quinto-Pozos, Forber-Pratt, & Singleton, 2011). Moreover, the development of sign language assessments has enabled research studies to show associations between language, cognitive skills and literacy (Botting et al., 2017). The availability of sign language assessments has confirmed that DHH children from DHH, signing families achieve similar milestones in sign language as their hearing counterparts in spoken language. Yet the measures developed to date are insufficient for tracking bimodal bilingual development in DHH children, particularly as children progress through the later school years. This article reviews hitherto mentioned and new issues in test development and standardization related to the status of sign language research, the size and nature of the population of DHH signers, and tester issues with a specific focus on assessments used by practitioners rather than those designed for research purposes. References are made to the reasons why DHH children are at risk for language delay. A selection of different types of sign language test is presented. In the UK and elsewhere, many of the tests developed to date have focused on the earlier stages of language development. We therefore include a description of a UK project that is adapting an assessment for adolescent signers.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: assessment, deaf, sign language, test
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
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Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.

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