University of Edinburgh

British Sign Language (BSL) Acquisition & Assessment of Deaf Children


Baker, Anne & Woll, Bencie (eds)
Sign language acquisition
John Benjamins, 2008
ISBN 9789027222442
Articles of research into sign language acquisition covering the basics of doing this research including the use of assessment tools, problems of transcription, analysing narratives and carrying out interaction studies.

Bellugi, Ursula & Brown, Roger
Acquisition of language, The
University of Chicago Press, 1964
ISBN 0226767574

Gallaway, Clare & Richards, Brian J
Input and interaction in language acquisition
Cambridge U P, 1994
ISBN 0521437253
A study of "baby talk" and how it affects the acquisition of language in young children. Also explores language acquisition in second and foreign language learners.

Goldin-Meadow, Susan
Resilience of language: what gesture creation in deaf children can tell us about how all children learn language
Psychology Press, 2003
ISBN 1841690260
Looks at the way in which deaf children who have not been exposed to formal sign language develop methods of communicating using gesture. Series: Essays in Developmental Psychology

Kyle, J G
Sign questions in school
Centre for Deaf Studies, University of Bristol, 1994
ISBN 0124580459
A study to describe the developmental pattern of BSL acquisition of deaf schoolchildren aged 4-11. Project report to ESRC.

National Deaf Children's Society (NDCS)
Assessing and monitoring the progress of deaf children and young people: Communication, language and listening
NDCS, 2012
ISBN 9781907814655
An overview of the main language assessments in use for children who are deaf.

Schick, Brenda; Marschark, Marc; Spencer, Patricia Elizabeth (Eds)
Advances in the sign language development of deaf children
Oxford University, 2006
ISBN 0195180941
Series: Perspectives on Deafness Academic papers on the acquisition of sign language in deaf children.

Assessment Materials

Herman, Rosalind; Holmes, Sallie; Woll, Bencie
Assessing British Sign Language (BSL) development: receptive skills test
Forest, 1999
ISBN 0946252467
Pack comprises: Video, Picture Booklet, Tester's Manual, Score Sheets and a pack of 20 picture cards.


Byrne-Dunne, Deirdre
Language acquisition of a deaf child in Ireland
Deaf Worlds
2005 Vol 21 (2), pS104-S118
A deaf mother of a deaf child who is also now a linguist relates her experience of her child's early language acquisition (first 3 years.)

de Beuzeville, Louise
Acquisition of classifier signs in Auslan (Australian Sign Language) by Deaf children from Deaf families: a preliminary analysis
Deaf Worlds
2004 Vol 20 (2), p120-140
A study of the acquisition of sign language in deaf children from deaf families, focusing on classifier signs.

Enns, Charlotte J & Herman, Rosalind C
Adapting the 'Assessing British Sign Language Development: Receptive Skills Test' into American Sign Language
Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Summer 2011, Vol 16 (3), p362-374
The BSL receptive skills test is being used as a model to create an American equivalent.

Gallaway, Clare
Using video to monitor early language development
Journal of British Association of Teachers of the Deaf
1994, Vol 18 (5), p129-140
Looks at the methods involved in using video recording materials for the study of early language development. Discusses contrasts between working with hearing children and deaf children.

Giezen, Marcel R; Baker, Anne E; Escudero, Paola
Relationships between spoken word and sign processing in children with cochlear implants
Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Jan 2014, Vol 19 (1), p107-125
A study of the impact of learning both spoken language and sign language for children with cochlear implants.

Haug, Tobias
Approaching sign language test construction: adaptation of the German Sign Language receptive skills test
Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Summer 2011, Vol 16 (3), p343-361
The BSL receptive skills test is being used as a model to create a German equivalent.

Haug, Tobias
Use of information and communication technologies in sign language test development: results of an international survey
Deafness and Education International
Mar 2015, Vol 17 (1), p33
Looks at the development and use of ICT to deliver sign language assessments across the world.

Haug, Tobias & Mann, Wolfgang
Adapting tests of sign language assessment for other sign languages: a review of linguistic, cultural and psychometric problems
Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Winter 2008, Vol 13 (1), p138-147
Looks at the possibility of adapting sign language tests from the USA and UK for use with other countries' sign languages.

Haug, Tobias; Herman, Rosalind; Woll, Bencie
Constructing an online test framework, using the example of a sign language receptive skills test
Deafness and Education International
Mar 2015, Vol 17 (1), p3
Explores the possibilities of using online delivery for the sign language receptive skills test.

Herman, Ros & Roy, Penny
Evidence from the wider use of the BSL receptive skills test
Deafness and Education International 2006, Vol 8 (1), p33-47
Looks at the BSL competency of deaf children who have been tested using the BSL Receptive Skills Test (1999).

Johnston, Trevor
Assessment and achievement of proficiency in a native sign language within a sign bilingual program: the pilot Auslan receptive skills test
Deafness and Education International
2004, Vol 6 (2), p57-81
Assessment of sign language skills of children in a sign bilingual education programme.

Mann, Wolfgang; Roy, Penny; Marshall, Chloe
Look at the other 90 per cent: investigating British Sign Language vocabulary knowledge in deaf children from different language learning backgrounds
Deafness and Education International
June 2013, Vol 15 (2), p91-116
Looks at sign language vocabulary testing for children aged 4-17 of varying levels due to linguistic backgrounds and learning abilities.

Martin, Amber Joy & Sera, Maria D
Acquisition of spatial constructions in American Sign Language and English
Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Fall 2006, Vol 11 (4), p391-402
Looks at how children learn elements of ASL and of English regarding spatial language (eg, front, behind, left, right, towards, away, above & below)

Petitto, Laura Ann
In the beginning: on the genetic and environmental factors that make early language acquisition possible. In M Gopnick, The inheritance and innateness of grammars
Oxford University, 1997
ISBN 9780195115345
Chapter reprint. Research which shows that the optimal rate of acquisition of sign and spoken languages amongst bilingual hearing children and the rate of acquisition of sign language by deaf children are the same and that these different modalities are acquired in the same way.

Rathmann, Christian; Mann, Wolfgang; Morgan, Gary
Narrative structure and narrative development in deaf children
Deafness and Education International
2007, Vol 9 (4), p187-196
Looks at the story writing aspect of literacy in sign bilingual deaf pupils. Special Issue: Sign Language and Deaf Education

Rinaldi, Pasquale ... [et al]
Sign vocabulary in deaf toddlers exposed to sign language since birth
Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
July 2014, Vol 19 (3), p303-318
Looks at the breadth of language attained by deaf children exposed to sign from birth and compares with hearing/speaking peers.

Singleton, Jenny L & Newport, Elissa L
When learners surpass their models: the acquisition of American Sign Language from inconsistent input
Cognitive Psychology
December 2004, Vol 49 (4), p370-407
Looks at a deaf child learning ASL principally from parents for whom ASL is not their first language and whether their inabilities affect his acquisition of ASL.

Siple, Patricia; Akamatsu, C Tane; Loew, Ruth C
Acquisition of American Sign Language by fraternal twins: a case study
International Journal of Sign Linguistics
1990, Vol 1 (1), p3-13
A study of twins born to deaf parents whose primary language is ASL. The children are studied as they learn ASL from their parents. One child has been identified as profoundly deaf the other is hearing.

Tolar, Tammy; Lederberg, Amy R; Gokhale, Sonali; Tomasello, Michael
Development of the ability to recognize the meaning of iconic signs
Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education
Spring 2008, Vol 13 (2), p225-240
The researchers assessed children's ability to correctly interpret iconic sign language. Findings suggest that below 3 years old most children have difficulties with iconicity but that this develops during the preschool years.