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Sign Language Studies

American Annals of the Deaf

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Assessing Deaf Adults: Critical Issues in Testing and Evaluation

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It is easily seen how such methods present a double-edged sword. Individually or in combination, each approach could contribute to a comprehensive and balanced assessment of any individual’s understanding, and some professional groups and examination authorities are looking at these alternatives as possibly promising. However, at this time, they are expensive to administer on any large scale, and it is probably unrealistic to expect the wide-scale implementation of such alternatives in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, they might be able to be used to supplement rather than supplant regularly administered measures; if deaf and hard of hearing persons had access to such alternative means, a more complete picture of competency would emerge. Deaf and hard of hearing candidates actually might meet criteria with more rigorous assessment than that required of the hearing person because they would take both the regular examination as well as an alternative assessment of some kind.


This book, then, is to some degree about difficult choices—dilemmas—which face persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, and decision-makers (who more often than not tend to be hearing persons) who must make decisions about their qualifications and futures. The dilemmas include how to accommodate with existing examinations, how to equate results for deaf and hearing persons, how to create more accessible items and formats, how to decide among alternative assessments in terms of value and application, and how to ensure that all of these actions are financially feasible in view of budget restrictions in both the public and private sectors. None of these dilemmas is easily resolved, and each will require much experimentation and debate. It is hoped that readers will achieve a deep understanding of all of the issues attendant on this sensitive area, such that the goal of both equity and maintenance of high standards can be achieved by deaf and hard of hearing persons of all ages.


Ysseldyke, J. E., Thurlow, M. L., Langenfeld, K. L., Nelson, J., R., Teelucksingh, E., & Seyfarth, A. (1998). Educational results for students with disabilities. Minneapolis: National Center on Educational Outcomes. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED425590)

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