Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI:ASL)


The Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI:ASL) involves a one-to-one conversation in sign language between an interviewer and candidate/interviewee. Interview content varies according to the background, job responsibilities, schooling, and other interests of each SLPI:ASL candidate/interviewee.

The SLPI:ASL was adapted by Bill Newell and Frank Caccamise from the Language/Oral Proficiency Interview (L/OPI), an interview technique for assessing spoken language communication skills. Just as the L/OPI may be used to assess a variety of spoken languages the SLPI:ASL may be used to assess a variety of sign languages. For example, it is used in Kenya as SLPI:KSL, in South Africa as SLPI:SASL, and in New Zealand as SLPI:NZSL.

SLPI:ASL interviews are recorded and subsequently rated independently by SLPI:ASL raters. The basis for ratings is the SLPI:ASL Rating Scale, a standard scale based on the sign language communication skills of highly skilled, knowledgeable native/native-like signers. In application, a primary use of the SLPI:ASL has been to assess how well people are able to use sign language for communication, and, as appropriate, to use this information to assist people in development of their sign language communication skills. In the Evaluators’ Resources part of this website, Training Workshop Materials Sections 1, 5, 7 and 8 provide additional information about the SLPI Rating Scale, what the SLPI:ASL assesses, and SLPI:ASL use; and Section 10 provides information on connecting sign language instruction and SLPI:ASL results.

For more information about ASL training and evaluation at RIT/NTID, please visit the NSLARC website

Seal of Biliteracy:

Frequently Asked Questions

The Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI:ASL) 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:ASL candidate's performance is compared to this standard scale, not other candidates, the SLPI:ASL is a criterion referenced test.

More about the SLPI:ASL Rating Scale (PDF)

The SLPI:ASL 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:ASL assessments (PDF)

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:ASL occurring for residential staff at the Louisiana School for the Deaf.

More about the SLPI:ASL history (PDF)

SLPI:ASL Training Workshops and implementation have occurred at more than 50 academic and vocational rehabilitation programs across the US and in Canada, Kenya, and South Africa.

Program implementation resources

  • Factors Important for Development and Refinement of Sign Language Program Philosophy, Policy and Procedures Documents (pdf)
  • Principles For Development and Refinement of Sign Language Program Philosophy, Policy, and Procedures Documents (pdf)
  • Sign Language Skills Development Timeline Study (pdf) (doc)
  • ASL Skills Development Study Model Spreadsheet (xls)
  • Angles and Other SLPI Recording Guidelines (pdf)
  • Accepting SLPI Results from Other Programs (pdf)
  • Monitoring SLPI Team Members' Ratings (pdf)
  • Monitoring Sign Language Communication Skills Development (pdf)
  • Connecting ASL Instruction and the SLPI (doc)
  • Models (sample guidelines to follow)
    • Model Sign Language Policy and Procedures for Student Teacher Applicants (pdf) (doc)
    • Model Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI) Information for University Students Majoring in Education of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students (pdf) (doc)
    • Model Research Study for Establishing Sign Language Skill Level Expectation for University Students Majoring in Education of Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Students (pdf) (doc)
    • Community Policy and Procedures Model Document (pdf) (doc)
  • Sample 1: South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind
    • South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind (SCSDB) Sign Language Communication Philosophy and Policy (pdf) (doc)
    • South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind (SCSDB) Sign Language Communication Philosophy and Policy: Procedures for Implementation (pdf) (doc)
    • South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind (SCSDB) Sign Language Communication Philosophy, Policy, and Procedures for Student Teacher and Intern Applicants (pdf)
  • Sample 2: Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind
    • Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) Total Communication Philosophy (pdf) (doc)
    • Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) Staff American Sign Language Policy (pdf) (doc)
    • Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) Staff American Sign Language Program: Procedures (pdf) (doc)
  • Other samples
    • NTID Master of Science in Secondary Education (MSSE) Program Applicant and Student Sign Language Communication Skills Assessment and Follow-Up Process (pdf)
    • Alabama Department of Mental Health Sign Language Proficiency Philosophy and Policy (pdf) (doc)

This sub-section includes three MODEL Annual Sign Language Program Reports based on Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind (FSDB) and South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind (SCSDB) reports:

Annual Sign Language Program Reports are important to determining the fairness of expected sign language entry skill levels and standards/goals.

The MODEL 1 and MODEL 2 Annual Reports include information about SLPI services, the number and percentage of staff that have and have not achieved their sign language skill level standards/goals, and participation and success of staff below their goals in sign language instruction.

In addition, the MODEL 1 Annual Report includes an explanation of how SLPI results are used to help ensure staff members with similar sign language skill levels are placed together in ASL courses. This ASL course placement criteria is designed to help ensure course content is appropriate for the ASL skill levels of staff members and to help avoid the frustration that may arise for both instructors and staff members when staff members taking an ASL course have a wide range of ASL skills. This placement criteria is also helpful to instructors and staff members in making a direct connection between the ASL assessment tool being used, the SLPI, and ASL instruction.

The MODEL 3 annual report, which is based on a quarterly reporting process, includes a narrative summary that refers to two tables that summarize sign language program information for each of the four quarters of the fiscal year (FY) being reported. In addition, comparisons to past FY results and totals over several FYs may be included in the narrative summary.

Evaluator Resources

The following documents are best used in notebooks or binders provided to evaluators being trained to administer the SLPI:ASL to candidates. 

Section 1: Workshop Goal and Principles, Materials, and Procedures (pdf)

Section 2: SLPI:ASL Training Workshop Schedule and In-Service Materials (pdf) (doc)

Section 3A: SLPI:ASL Scheduling and Interviewing (pdf) (doc)

Section 3B: SLPI:ASL Rating and Sharing of Results

Section 4A: Sample SLPI:ASL Rater Worksheets

  • Individual Rater Team Procedures (pdf)
  • Two and Three Rater Team Procedures (pdf)

Section 4B: Guidelines for Completing SLPI:ASL Rater Worksheets (pdf)

Section 5: Skills Important for Effective Sign Language Communication and SLPI:ASL Rating Levels (pdf)

Section 6: ASL Grammar (pdf)

Section 7: Responses to Frequently Asked Questions about the SLPI:ASL (pdf) (doc)

Section 8: Selected Readings for the SLPI:ASL (doc)

Section 9: Suggested Documents for Programs Using the SLPI:ASL

Section 10: Connecting ASL Instruction and the SLPI:ASL (pdf)

  1. Rating Scale and Analyzing Function (pdf)
  2. Rater Worksheets
    • Rater Worksheet: 2 and 3 Team Member Process (pdf)
    • Rater Worksheet: Individual Rater Process (pdf)
  3. Discussion Worksheet (pdf)
  4. Grammar and Discussion Guidelines (pdf)
  5. Analyzing Form (pdf)

Rating levels

  • Novice range (Novice/Novice Plus)
  • Survival range (Survival/Survival Plus)
  • Intermediate range (Intermediate/Intermediate Plus)
  • Advanced range (Advanced/Advanced Plus)
  • Superior range (Superior/Superior Plus)

ASL grammatical features

  • Indexing
  • Eye Gaze and Body Shift
  • Verb Movement Directionality
  • Sign Movement Modification for Degree
  • Sign Movement for Repeated Action
  • Repetition of Sign Noun Movement (a)
  • Repetition of Sign Noun Movement (b)
  • Number Incorporation
  • Non-Dominant Hand Listing
  • Conditional Sentence
  • Classifiers CL:V and CL:B


When interviewing a candidate, it is best to keep the following in mind:

  1. Your goal is to bring out the candidate’s best ASL. You are the candidate’s ally.
  2. Model ASL for the candidate. This means:
    • Don’t code-switch to more English-based signing.
    • Mouth movements must match natural ASL signing.
  3. If candidate doesn’t understand:
    • Repeat the question just as you signed it the first time.
    • Repeat, but more slowly.
    • Re-phrase the question with ASL syntax (don’t change to English syntax).
    • Rephrase again…slow down.
    • Do not use more fingerspelling.
  4. Please be aware that the candidate may be anxious, as is normal in a testing context. If you feel frustrated with the candidate, showing it will only increase their anxiety. Never show your frustration, no matter what.
  5. 20 minutes, three topics.
    • Work
    • Family/home/background
    • Hobbies/leisure activities
  6. Sample videos of common strategies
    • Rephrasing a question
    • Requesting a Description
    • Probing for Hobbies

Workshop training room set-up (pdf)

Diagram of setup of a training room

Interview room set-up

Below is an example of setting up the interview room to make good use of one camera. Notice a few things about this arrangement:

  • This is for a right-handed candidate; the candidate sits on the right and the interviewer on the left. This is best for viewing the candidate's signing and, especially, fingerspelling.
  • The camera's main capture is of the candidate; however, it's pointed in such a way that it will also capture the interviewer's facial expressions. This helps the raters judge the quality of the interaction. In particular, it allows the raters to know when the candidate's signing is not clear to the interviewer.
  • Behind the candidate is a clock. The interviewer can glance at the clock discretely to help judge both the overall length of the interview and the three segments (work/study, family, and leisure activities/hobbies).
  • There are no alligators anywhere in the interview room.

These details are discussed in Paper 6: Angles and Other SLPI Recording Guidelines in Training Notebook Section 7.

Photograph of the setup of an interview room

Evaluator training resources

The documents below provide information and materials important to planning and hosting workshops for training potential SLPI:ASL Team members. It includes both PDF and Word versions of the SLPI:ASL Training Workshop: Planning, Implementation, and Follow-Up document. The PDF version maintains the appropriate format for this document, but it cannot be edited. The Word version can be edited to fit the needs of each program that sponsors an SLPI:ASL Workshop, but the appropriate format may not be maintained when posted in a website. Therefore, programs can refer to the PDF version to assist them with the proper format when they make changes to the Word version to fit their application of the SLPI:ASL.

  • SLPI Training Workshop Planning, Implementation, and Follow-Up (pdf) (doc)
  • Support for Local SLPI:ASL Teams and SLPI:ASL Team Training (pdf)
  • Why Six to Ten SLPI:ASL Training Workshop Participants? (pdf)
  • May ASL Teachers Serve as SLPI:ASL Interviewers and Raters for People They Have Taught? (pdf)
  • Options for Conducting and Sharing Results of SLPI:ASL Ratings (pdf)
  • Options for Reporting SLPI:ASL Ratings (pdf)
  • Workshop training room setup (see Diagrams)

Find help near you

The National SLPI:ASL Leadership Board (NSLB) members below guide and monitor SLPI teams in the United States. They also provide SLPI evaluator training workshops. Workshops are conducted over four days, and trainers are paid a $4,000 stipend for their work.  

Sharon Lott, NSLB Coordinator
and ASL Training and Evaluation Coordinator
Independent contractor

Keith M. Cagle, Ph.D.
Department Chair
American Sign Language and Interpreting Education
Rochester, NY

This list contains the most current information on all the local SLPI:ASL Coordinators and their contact information.

Stephanie Fernandez, NSLARC Staff Assistant
National Technical Institute for the Deaf (NTID)
If any corrections to names, locations, or contact information are needed, please contact us at

For remote SLPI services via videophone, contact:

National Sign Language Assessment (NSLA)


Charlene Crump
State Coordinator, Interpreting/Communication Access
Office of Deaf Services
Alabama Department of Mental Health

P. O. Box 301410
Montgomery, Alabama 36130
334-353-7415 (voice)
334.242.0796 (fax)

Shannon Reese; 334-239-3780 VP


Victoria Vaughn
Licensing and Compliance Specialist 
Arizona Commission for the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing (ACDHH)

100 N. 15th Avenue, Suite 104
Phoenix, Arizona 85007
602-542-3323 V/TTY


Joyce Scott, M.Ed.
Arkansas Rehabilitation Services

26 Corporate Hill Drive
Little Rock, Arkansas  72205
501-686-9688 v/tty
501-686-9685 fax


Katie Bechtold
Director of Interpreter Services
Florida School for the Deaf & the Blind

207 North San Marco Avenue
St. Augustine, Florida 32084  
904-827-2930 (V)
904-201-4493 (VP)


Vanessa Robisch, Ed.S.
GaDOE DHH and State Schools Special Projects Coordinator

Division of State Schools
Georgia Department of Education


Michael Cain
American Sign Language Program
Perimeter College at Georgia State University - Clarkston Campus

555 North Indian Creek Drive
Clarkston, GA 30021
678-735-7578 (VP)
678-891-3605 (voice)
678-891-3608 (fax)

Lara Whitfield, SLPI Coordinator
Georgia Center of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing

2296 Henderson Mill Road, N.E.
Suite 115
Atlanta, GA 30345
Main: 404-292-5312
Direct: 404.381.8447

Jimmy Peterson
2296 Henderson Mill Road, NE
Suite 115
Atlanta, GA 30345
Main: 404.292.5312
Toll-Free: 888.297.9461
Fax: 404.297.9465
Interpreting Service: 404.207.9362


Craig Kuhn
SLPI:ASL Coordinator
Illinois School for the Deaf

125 Webster Ave
Jacksonville, Il 62650
VP (217)303-8201


Billy Gulley, Jr.
SLPI Coordinator
Kentucky School for the Deaf

303 South Second Street PO Box 27 Danville, KY 40423-0027
vp: 859-755-4611


Peggy Lee, Ed.M.
Director of Social Services

Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing 
600 Washington St., 3rd floor
Boston, MA 02111
Text: 617-894-4169
VP: 617-275-7883
Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | YouTube


Jennifer Berrigan
SLPI Coordinator
Michigan Department of Education-Low Incidence Outreach

702 W Kalamazoo Street
PO Box 30742
Lansing, Michigan 48909
VP/Voice: 970 515 7737
Text Number: (517) 897-3943
Fax Number: (517) 335-1632


Mary Cashman-Bakken, JD
MN Department  of Education – State Specialist DHH

Division of Special Education
400 NE Stinson BLVD., Minneapolis, MN 55413

Amy Amundsen
SLPI Coordinator/Interpreter
Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf

615 Olof Hanson Drive
Faribault Minnesota  55021
507-384-6665 V; 507.412.5082


Peggy Belt
Communication Coordinator
Missouri School for the Deaf

505 East 5th Avenue
Fulton, Missouri 65251
VP 573-826-4718 

New York (alphabetical by city)

Jessica Valenti
St. Francis De Sales
Sign Language Dept.

260 Eastern Pkwy
Brooklyn, New York 11225
718-636-4573 ext. 112

Pam Rohring
St. Mary's School for the Deaf

2253 Main Street
Buffalo, New York 14214
(716) 335-9380

Adele Agin, LCSW
Executive Director, SCPI Coordinator
Lexington Vocational Services Center, Inc.

Lexington Center for Mental Health Services
25-26 75th Street
East Elmhurst, NY  11370
718-350-3110 (V)
Fax: (929) 529-6133
VP: (917) 832-1682

Sharon Lott
ASLTE Coordinator
National Technical Institute for the Deaf
Rochester Institute of Technology

52 Lomb Memorial Drive
Rochester, New York  14623-5604
585-286-3484 (VP)

North Carolina

National SLPI: ASL Services
139 Tifton Circle
Cape Carteret, NC 28584
VP 252-221-5847 and look for SLPI
Contact person: Raisa Philips, Support Manager
SLPI Coordinator: Molly Estes


Julie Stewart, SLPI: ASL coordinator
The Ohio School for the Deaf

500 Morse Road

Columbus, Ohio



Buffy Reis, MS SLPI:ASL Coordinator 
National Sign Language Assessment 
Bridges Oregon
1115 Madison St. NE, #1069
Salem, OR 97301-7862
Main: 971-202-1500
Direct: 971-800-6253


Molly Estes
SLPI: ASL Trainer, Independent Contractor

Pittsburgh, PA


April Haggard, MA, ASLTA
Senior Lecturer
ASL Program & SLPI: ASL Coordinator

Department of Theory & Practice in Teacher Education
A215 Bailey Education Complex
1122 Volunteer Blvd.
Knoxville, TN 37996-3442


Kathy Campbell CI & CT
Interpreter Coordinator/SLPI:ASL Coordinator
ASL Instructor/Specialist 
Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind
PO Box 2069 Staunton, Virginia 24441

West Virginia

Sondra L. McKenery, M.Ed.
Director of Human Resources
West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind

301 East Main Street, Romney, WV  26757
Phone:  304-822-4820; Fax:  304-461-8005

Canada (Nova Scotia and New Brunswick)

Amy Parsons
Educational Interpreter Consultant
Atlantic Provinces Special Education Authority (APSEA)

5940 South Street
Halifax, Nova Scotia  B3H 1S6