[PS-1.13] A New Assessment: American Sign Language Comprehension Task Through Literal and Inferential Constructs

Rosenburg, P. .

Boston University

There is a significant correlation between language comprehension and academic attainment. Language comprehension requires integration of both lower- (e.g. decoding, word recognition, and vocabulary knowledge) and higher-level skills (e.g. making inferences). Simultaneously, bilingual studies have found high-level skills in first language (L1) comprehension to facilitate second language (L2) comprehension skills. However, little is known about high-level skills in sign languages such as ASL. No studies have examined ASL comprehension through literal and inferential constructs as L1, which may be important predictors of reading comprehension in English as L2. 303 Deaf children across the US participated in this study (ages 8-18). Reliability and validity of the new task were established. Logistic regression was then conducted to compare Deaf children who were not at risk for language deprivation (n=105) and those who were at risk (n=198). Findings indicated main effects of language deprivation on accuracy (B=-1.00, SE=0.21, z = -4.777, p. <.001), accuracy improves with age (B=0.13, SE=0.03, z = 4.105, p. <.001), and literal questions yielded higher accuracy than inferential questions (B=0.19, SE=0.08, z = 2.267, p. <.02). This study established the importance of assessing high-level comprehension in Deaf students' L1, which may have downstream effects on L2.