Assessing BSL Development: Production Test

This is the second in a series of language assessments in BSL, produced by the Sign Language & Deaf Studies research team at City University, London.  The first assessment, the BSL Receptive Skills Test, explored children’s understanding of BSL morphology and syntax.  The BSL Production Test is intended to complement the BSL Receptive Skills Test by looking at children’s signed output, specifically their ability to produce a signed narrative and accurately use features of BSL grammar.  The test score obtained by an individual child can be compared to the mean score obtained by children in the standardization sample indicating the child’s level of development in BSL.

The test measures production skills in BSL, based on an elicited narrative sample.  Intended for use with deaf children who use or are learning BSL as a first language or who are bilingual in BSL and English, it may also be used with hearing children who are using sign as their main means of communication, e.g. children with learning disabilities.

The current edition of the test provides mean scores for children between the ages of 4-11 years. Children younger than 4 years of age, although able to recount a short, spontaneous narrative, are unlikely to be able to structure their own story in BSL after watching a filmed story just once or twice. Beyond the age of 11 years, narrative development is largely complete; however, certain aspects of BSL grammar may continue to develop within a narrative context.

Testers intending to use this test with deaf children must have good BSL skills, minimum BSL 2 Certificate (Signature Level). They must also have successfully completed a certified training course in use of the test.

This test has been adapated to American Sign Language and German Sign Language.



By Herman, R., Grove, N., Holmes, S., Morgan, G., Sutherland, H. & Woll, B., City University Publication 2004. (updated June 4, 2012).

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For more information regarding this test, please contact  Rosalind Herman.