Abstract and Keywords
From the moment deaf children are first identified, language development is a primary educational goal, and meaningful assessment of language skills is the cornerstone upon which initial placement and subsequent educational programming rests. In this connection, language assessment should be tailored to respond to specific diagnostic questions and to meet individual language and learning needs. However, few tests can be used reliably with this population; thus early interventionists, educators, and clinicians need to proceed cautiously when planning for, conducting, and interpreting findings of language assessments of deaf children. This chapter discusses some of the important issues surrounding the language assessment of deaf children, including issues that influence the selection of approaches and measures, assessment procedures, and interpretation of findings. Language assessment typically focuses on aspects of semantic, syntactic, or pragmatic development, and both formal (or standardized or “product-oriented”) and informal (or “process-oriented”) approaches and measures contribute to the language assessment process within and across these domains. Formal measures include instruments developed for and normed on typically hearing children and adapted for use with deaf children, as well as the comparatively smaller number of instruments designed specifically for use with children with hearing losses. In contrast, informal assessment is based on the assumption that language performance should be viewed in context and evaluated over time against the child’s own baseline. Overall, the aspect of language under investigation should be assessed using a variety of formal and informal approaches, and findings should be integrated both within and across domains.
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