Western Oregon University Announces New American Sign Language Assessment Service

Group of students in an American Sign Language class

Western Oregon University’s (WOU) Regional Resource Center on Deafness (RRCD) is the first to offer a nationwide American Sign Language assessment service (RSLA) in the western United States. The service uses Sign Language Proficiency Interview (SLPI) conducted in American Sign Language (ASL) model to assess the individuals’ ASL skills.

The service has widespread value to those seeking an external evaluation of their ASL skills. State and federal employees, law enforcement members and others could use this service to provide credibility to their fluency when looking for pay increases, promotions or new jobs. Students could use this service when applying for academic programs requiring prerequisite knowledge of ASL and when looking to begin their career or obtain an internship.

RSLA SLPI:ASL is an assessment conducted remotely involving a conversation in ASL between an interviewer and a candidate. The service assesses a person’s skills in using a natural sign language for communication. The assessment provides an analysis of a person’s sign language vocabulary, production, fluency, grammar and comprehension skills.

In 1980, the SLPI:ASL model 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. In October 2019, two national trainers from National Technical Institute of the Deaf (NTID), a college of Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), visited WOU to guide and train the RSLA team to implement the national SLPI:ASL service.

SLPI:ASL is the only validated proficiency assessment that provides rating and comprehensive diagnostic feedback, providing our candidates a better understanding of their strengths and areas for improvement to continue toward a higher rating. It is listed on the National Seal of Biliteracy and Oregon State Seal of Biliteracy as an acceptable form for the purpose of demonstrating proficiency in a language other than English.

The service is available nationwide, including U.S. territories. For more information, visit www.wou.edu/rrcd/rsla/.

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About the Regional Resource Center on Deafness

RRCD is in WOU’s College of Education has been supporting students in fields like deaf-blind interpreting & training, graduate studies in ASL interpreting, deaf and hard of hearing education, and rehabilitation and mental health counseling for more than 50 years. For more information about RRCD and RSLA, please visit www.wou.edu/rrcd/.

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