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Macarthur Communication Development Inventory (CDI 2e)

This is a standardised parents reporting system. The infant version looks at comprehension, word production and symbolic and communicative gesture. The toddler version explores word production and the early stages of grammar. It is a ‘by-parent report’, takes 20–40 minutes to complete and 10–15 minutes to score and has norms up to 37 months. Though it was developed in the USA and Canada, it’s used in many research studies and can be useful in the UK.

Age range

Three versions:

  • Infant: 8–18 months – Words and gestures.
  • Toddler: 16–30 months – Words and sentences.
  • Children: 30–37 months (CDI 111). This extension of the CDIs is a short, single-sheet tool that measures expressive vocabulary and grammar.
  • Can also be used with older children with developmental delays.

Who can use it?

Parents, speech and language therapists or Teachers of the Deaf.


  • This assessment was given a high rating by the Newborn Hearing Screening Wales Task and Finish Group on measures in language and communication for early identified children. Parents and Teachers of the Deaf both gave positive feedback including: “very good with young children especially with additional needs”, “very useful quick impression of discrimination” and “gives lots of information re: speech discrimination.”
  • Research confirms its validity. For example, “the CDI appears to be a viable measure to use by itself given the relative ease of administration and validity of the measure, particularly when using this measure to identify upper and lower ends of linguistic functioning."
  • The CDI has been translated into many spoken languages and a BSL version - Early British Sign Language Development - has been developed (Woolfe et al 2010). This has norms based on deaf native signers (8–36 months). For more information, contact [email protected] or [email protected].


  • The Welsh study some parents felt there were a number of “Americanisms” and that the focus on word production didn’t take account of understanding.
  • Relatively old, originally 2007, although regularly updated.

Is there a cost? 


Where can I access it?

The manual with scoring guidance and norms is available from Brookes Publishing.

A BSL package of Early British Sign Language Development can be found here