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ASL Evaluation
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American Sign Language Evaluation Form

Your current level of proficiency in ASL has been rated:

(Adapted from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Language, ACTFL, Proficiency Guidelines, 1986.)

For use with a Rubric, each area can be evaluated as: Consistent Occasional Rare Not Observed

The Novice level is characterized by an ability to recognize and use learned material and isolated words and phrases when strongly supported by context. All of the following skills are non-compensatory.

1. One-word utterance level in all communication
2. Ability to comprehend signed words/phrases
3. Culturally appropriate eye-contact
4. Ability to fingerspell single words clearly
5. Ability to read single fingerspelled words
6. Use of mime in place of ASL
7. Use of mime to enhance ASL

1. Ability to understand short phrases in context.
2. Ability to respond to yes/no questions in context.
3. Comprehension of wh- questions.
4. Comprehension of high frequency commands. (Tell me…; show me…;Explain….)
5. Ability to sustain a conversation for 3 to 4 turns.
6. Requests rephrasing for comprehension.
7. Indicates when a message is not understood.
8. Use of ASL classifiers (give examples).
9. Use of basic phrases / formulaic utterances. (e.g. numbers, days of the week, family info. weather)
10. Clarity of expression.


1. Ability to understand sentence-length signed communication in context.
2. Ability to relay sentence-length information.
3. Ability to ask questions in a culturally appropriate manner.
4. Ability to respond to Wh- questions
5. Appropriate use of fingerspelling to support conversation.
6. Ability to read fingerspelled words in context.
7. Requests repetition or rephrasing, when needed.
8. Appropriate rate of expression.
9. Use of ASL classifiers.
10. Culturally appropriate communication acts.
11. Can describe people and events.
12. Can express biographical information.


The Intermediate level is characterized by an ability to understand and express main ideas and some facts from interactive exchanges and simple connected texts in a culturally appropriate manner. The student can get into through and out of an uncomplicated situation. E.g. getting a hotel room, buying a book at the bookstore, ordering a meal in a restaurant. (Use situation cards.)

1. Ability to understand sentence-length signed communication when little contextual information is present.
2. Ability to express sentence-length, complete thoughts about familiar topics (work , school, family) at a comfortable rate for the viewer.
3. Ability to read most fingerspelled words in context.
4. Ability to fingerspell clearly.
5. Ability to sustain a conversation of several turns when the subject is familiar and social in content.
6. Ability to repair conversation breakdowns easily and naturally.
7. Uses basic ASL syntax correctly
8. Asks for clarification when needed.
9. Uses ASL classifiers appropriately.
10. Asks questions appropriately.
11. Uses name signs appropriately.
12. Uses mouth morphemes appropriately.


This level assumes that the signer can perform all aspects of Intermediate-Low, plus the following:

1. Understands sentence-length signed communication on a variety of familiar topics.
2. Sustains conversation for several turns.
3. Initiates new topics appropriately.
4. Appropriate attention-getting strategies.
5. Consistent eye-contact with conversation partner.
6. Consistent listening strategies. E.g. head nod
7. Ability to communicate complex information, such as directions, using ASL classifiers.
8. Ability to repair conversation breakdowns.
9. Ability to adapt to the code of the conversation partner.
10. Ability to use correct ASL syntax consistently most of the time.
11. Uses a greater volume of vocabulary than the Intermediate-low signer.
12. Uses tense markers consistently.


At this level, some of the skills of an advanced signer will be emerging but will not be seen consistently.

1. Sustains conversation over longer stretches of connected discourse. (e.g paragraph length
2. Communicates on a variety of topics, including abstract themes.
3. Uses appropriate nonverbal communication to support conversation.
4. Demonstrates understanding of questions with appropriate cultural and linguistic behaviors.
5. Asks questions with appropriate cultural and linguistic behaviors.
6. Understands fingerspelled communication.
7. Fingerspells appropriately and clearly.
8. Clarifies unfamiliar signs.
9. Positive visual affect. e.g. facial expression matches topic.
10. Code-switches easily and appropriately.


The Advanced level is characterized by an ability to understand and express main ideas and most details of connected discourse on a variety of topics beyond the immediacy of the situation, including some topics where comprehension is complicated due to an unexpected sequence of events. The signer will be able to get into, through and out of a situation with a complication. (e.g. You show up for class and find no one in the classroom. You need to approach a secretary and find out the time and location of the class. Use situation cards. Natural, consistent, culturally appropriate behavior is apparent.

1. Understands a variety of conversational topics, including main ideas and details, as well as unexpected events.
2. Can express concepts with syntactic accuracy on a variety of topics beyond the immediacy of the situation, including work-related and cultural events.
3. Fingerspells clearly and fluently when no sign is available.
4. Understands rapid fingerspelling in context.
5. Catches the “punch line” of simple, short jokes.
6. Understands some ASL idioms.
7. Uses ASL idioms appropriately.
8. Follows the sequence of thought in a long story.
9. Can tell a simple story at a variety of levels, e.g. child, teenager, adult
10. Can understand signed language and nonverbal communication of children when given a videotaped sample.


At this level, some Superior level tasks will be emerging but will not be used consistently.

1. Can participate in an ASL conversation with one or more signers.
2. Can interpret, when appropriate, for less capable signers.
3. Shows an understanding of culturally implied meanings.
4. Understands a variety of registers. e.g. social, academic, technical
5. Uses culturally appropriate conversation strategies. e.g. entering a conversation
6. Uses and reads fingerspelling effectively.
7. Can describe and explain some complicated events and procedures. (e.g. how to write a book report; how to make cookies )
8. Uses correct ASL syntax in most situations.


The Superior level is characterized by an ability to understand and express concrete and abstract topics in extended discourse offered by persons using native-like discourse strategies.

1. Understands ASL conversation at a variety of levels with a variety of signers.
2. Converses in ASL with a variety of signers at a variety of levels.
3. Shows an appreciation of the aesthetic norms of ASL.
4. Follows the essentials of extended, complex discourse.
5. Makes inferences within the cultural framework of ASL.
6. Demonstrates sensitivity for social and cultural references of ASL.
7. Can enjoy theater, lectures, seminars, academic debates conducted in ASL.
8. Understands ASL slang, puns, etc.
9. Displays native-like linguistic ability
10. Can tell a complex story at a variety of levels.
11. Consistently uses correct ASL syntax in all situations.



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