This section provides responses to frequently asked questions about the SLPI. These responses provide a description of the SLPI Rating Scale, discuss what the SLPI assesses, provide information about SLPI development, discuss where and with whom SLPI use has been implemented, and discuss other sign language assessment tools.
What Is the SLPI Rating Scale?
The Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI) Rating Scale is a standard scale for rating sign language communication skills that is based on highly skilled, knowledgeable native-like signers. Since each SLPI candidate's performance is compared to this standard scale, not other candidates, the SLPI is a criterion referenced test.
More about the SLPI Rating Scale (pdf)
What does the SLPI assess?
The SLPI assesses a person's skills in using a natural sign language for communication (function) and it provides an analysis of a person's sign language vocabulary, production, fluency, grammar, and comprehension skills (form).
More about the SLPI assessments (pdf)
What is the history of the SLPI?
In 1980 at the Third National Symposium on Sign Language Research and Teaching in Boston, Protase Woodford from Educational Testing Services, Princeton, NJ, presented information about the Language/Oral Proficiency Interview, an interview technique for assessing spoken language communication skills. Based on Woodford's presentation, several individuals began to explore the application of interview techniques to the assessment of American Sign Language (ASL), including faculty from the College of Staten Island, Gallaudet University (then Gallaudet College), and the National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID). Our application at NTID was originally developed and piloted for evaluating the sign language communication skills of NTID faculty and staff, with the first formal implementation of the SLPI occurring for residential staff at the Louisiana School for the Deaf.
More about the SLPI history (pdf)
Where has SLPI use been implemented?
SLPI Training Workshops and implementation have occurred at more than 50 academic and vocational rehabilitation programs across the US and in Canada and Kenya, Africa.
More about SLPI usage (pdf)
What other sign language assessments are there?
In addition to the SLPI described in this website, other interview sign language assessments include the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) developed by Mel Carter, the Gallaudet University (GU) ASLPI, and a Texas State Board for Educator Certification sign language assessment tool. At NTID we have also developed two classroom observational assessment tools, the Communication Sign Language Assessment (CSLA) and the Group Communication Observation Tool (GCOT). Sign language assessments developed for use with young students include the ASL Proficiency Assessment. In addition, Boystown Institute, Omaha, Nebraska, has a long history of conducting language assessments with children, including assessment of sign language skills. An overview of sign language assessment instruments that have been developed for different national sign languages is available at www.signlang-assessment.info/eng/eng.html.
More about other sign language assessments (pdf)