Developing a Standardised NZSL Student Assessment Toolkit

To ensure that deaf children, aged 3 to 11 years old, are acquiring NZSL at age-appropriate levels, the NZSL Board has allocated nearly $125,000 for a newly developed, standardized NZSL student assessment tool, and a national training programme in the use of the tool.

Watch NZSL video for this page

In 2015, a small group of Deaf Education Centre staff from the Kelston and van Asch Centres attended a workshop in Melbourne on Auslan (Australian Sign Language) Assessment, which was adapted from the Assessing British Sign Language (BSL) Development toolkit. Following that workshop, it was agreed that New Zealand needed its own NZSL version of the BSL toolkit that could measure the progress of children in their acquisition of NZSL.

The NZSL Fund provided $80,000 to the Combined Board of Kelston and van Asch Deaf Education Centres to support the first phase of this project. This involved collaboration with the British authors and Dr David McKee from Victoria University to adapt the BSL toolkit for the New Zealand context and to ensure the integrity of NZSL linguistics were preserved. 

Krista Clifford of Kelston Deaf Education Centre led this project. She said, “I am very grateful for the support given to me and my team by the British authors, especially Rosalind Herman, to enable the successful completion of this project”

NZSL Assessment Toolkit project team with representatives from Kelston, van Asch, Deaf Studies Research Unit and the Deaf community: (front) Nirvana Graham, Victoria Lessing (Deaf Community representative), Krista Clifford (Project Manager) Kathryn Metcalfe, (back) Darryl Alexander, Rosie Lamb, Alice Bennett, Dr David McKee (Victoria University)

Nirvana Graham, member of the project team says, “I am delighted that we now have these formal language tests, they will help NZSL tutors, Teachers of the Deaf, First Signs Facilitators and Ministry of Education Advisors of the Deaf to determine if a Deaf learner is learning NZSL at age-appropriate levels”.

Victoria University Senior Lecturer Dr David McKee, who worked closely with the project team, says “The toolkit is an essential tool to assess the sign language skills in deaf children throughout New Zealand and the team has done a fabulous job of adapting the toolkit from BSL to NZSL.”

Fifty copies of the Assessing NZSL Development toolkit have been made and will be available to personnel once they have completed the training required in order to deliver the language tests. Phase Two work which involves training a range of professionals throughout New Zealand to use the tool is being completed in early 2018 with thanks to the NZSL Board’s ongoing support.

NZSL Student Assessment Toolkit
NZSL Board has allocated nearly $125,000 for a newly developed, standardized NZSL student assessment tool

For more information, please contact Krista Clifford, 

NZSL video

Tell us what you think

Page last updated: