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Photo of three evaluators reviewing notes from a sign interview
Photo of three evaluators reviewing notes from a sign interview
Photo of sign classroom with instructor signing to faculty/staff class
at The National Technical
Institute for the Deaf

About the SLPI

What is the SLPI? What does it measure?

The SLPI is a conversational approach to sign language communication skills assessment. The goal of the SLPI is to assess how well people are able to use sign language for their communication needs, and to assist people in development of their sign language communication skills.

The SLPI involves a one-to-one recorded conversation between the interviewer and faculty/staff member which is rated by a team of three raters. People taking the SLPI are encouraged to schedule a follow-up meeting with an ASL specialist to discuss their SLPI results and to use these results as a basis for planning sign communication skill development activities.

What Does the SLPI Assess?

The SLPI assesses American Sign Language (ASL) as it is used among skilled sign language communicators in the United States, and includes:

1. vocabulary selection consistent with standardized signs in current use by skilled ASL users

2. the range of ASL grammatical features, including:

  • space, indexing, eye gaze, sign movement directionality, and body shifts to separate ideas and to identify and discuss people, places, and objects present and not present
  • classifiers for describing and representing persons, places, and objects and their movements (for example, use of the index finger to represent "a person")
  • appropriate use of ASL syntax
  • facial expressions and other body movements (non-manual signals) to support and add to information communicated (for example, affirmative and negative head movements)

In addition to vocabulary and grammatical features, clarity of sign production, fluency, and comprehension are important to effective communication when using a gestural-visual language, and therefore are considered in SLPI ratings. (from F. Caccamise and W. Newell, "The Sign Language Proficiency Interview: A Brief Description," September, 2000)