Projects Current Page Projects


International Exploratory Workshop: Methodological challenges and technical innovations in signed language assessment

Background and aims

There is a demonstrable need for sign language tests for a variety of target groups, such as children who acquire sign language as their first language, or adults who acquire a sign language as a second or foreign language.

When designing sign language tests, it is important to ensure validity and reliability. For test developers this often poses a methodical challenge, as many sign languages have not been adequately researched. A particular methodical challenge is presented by deaf children and teenagers, given that they are few in number and that patterns of sign language acquisition vary so widely. To date very few studies have addressed the methodological issues associated with designing sign language tests, and very few tests have been published which can be applied in practice.

The available sign language tests draw to different degrees on information and communication technologies (ICT), e.g. a Web-based format. Research has hitherto only produced findings on computer-assisted language testing (CALT) for spoken languages, e.g. comparison of task formats. Sign language tests have not yet been researched in this regard.

The aims of the workshop are:

To produce and disseminate a method manual for the design of sign language tests by compiling expertise from both experienced and junior, deaf and hearing researchers involved in the development of such tests. To identify major themes for developing sign language tests. These themes will form the basis for an interdisciplinary research agenda with an international focus. To discuss the consequences for learners of having sign language skills tested, e.g. what significance will test results have for future students of sign language interpreting? To strengthen international research partnerships and networks.


The workshop will meet its objectives through presentations in the plenary sessions and in-depth discussions in smaller workshop groups.


The findings of the workshop groups will be presented in plenary on the last day and summarised in a report.

The workshop for 30 invited participants (14 deaf and 16 hearing) will take place on 4−6 September 2015 at the Interkantonale Hochschule für Heilpädagogik (HfH) in Zurich. The workshop will be held in English and International Sign Language.


Haug, T., Mann, W., Boers-Visker, E., Contreras. J., Enns, Ch., Herman, R., & Rowley, K. (2016). Guidelines for sign language test development, evaluation, and use. PDF



Project Management

Prof. Dr.  Haug

Leiter Bachelorstudiengang Gebärdensprachdolmetschen

Project team


Forschung und Entwicklung
Tel: +41 44 317 11 81

zfe[at] zfe