Assessing ASL vocabulary development

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Accurate assessment of vocabulary is challenging in both spoken and signed languages. Vocabulary is affected by a child’s specific background and linguistic experience, which vary across children, even within the same community. Culture also affects vocabulary, increasing the variance between children who speak the same language. Thus, focusing on the number of words children know limits our understanding of the child’s lexical capacity and is vulnerable to an inaccurate representation of her knowledge of the language. The current chapter presents three vocabulary subtests of the American Sign Language Assessment Instrument (ASLAI) battery: Antonym, Synonym, and Analogical Reasoning. These receptive vocabulary subtests examine the child’s knowledge of signs and of the relations between signs; representing the developmental language trajectory of ASL. Moreover, the structure of the ASLAI allows exploring errors when children choose an incorrect response, as well as dissociation patterns within and between the subtests. These three subtests are discussed in terms of three factors: vocabulary development across school age, similarities between signed and spoken language, and the significance of early sign language exposure.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDiscussing Bilingualism in Deaf Children
Subtitle of host publicationEssays in Honor of Robert Hoffmeister
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781000360981
ISBN (Print)9780367373764
StatePublished - 16 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Taylor & Francis.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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