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Assessing BSL Development: Production Test (Narrative Skills)

  • This is an assessment of expressive language ability in BSL. The test assesses a child’s ability to remember and structure a narrative and use aspects of BSL grammar. It complements the BSL Receptive Test.
  • Areas of expressive language that are analysed include narrative content, narrative structure and BSL grammatical features used.
  • The task itself is a story recall task of a scenario that the child watches on a language-free short film.

Age range

4–11 years

Who can use it?

Testers must be fluent in BSL with a minimum Level 2 BSL qualification. They must also have successfully completed a certified training course. Online training courses are run at City, University of London.

On the course, participants learn about language development in sign languages, receive a basic introduction to sign linguistics and learn how to code child BSL narratives. Participants are given homework assignments to complete which they send to tutors for marking.

How is it used?

  • Child views a short language-free video.
  • Child retells the story to a native signer and answers questions. It’s important that it’s a native signer because most children adapt the language they use to suit the person with whom they are communicating and are likely to use more English structures (rather than BSL) with an adult that they know to be a user of English.
  • Child’s story is recorded and analysed for narrative content, narrative structure and BSL grammatical features.

What can it tell us?

  • This assessment gives percentile ranks for expressive BSL skills.
  • It can be used to monitor progress over time.
  • It can help with target setting.


  • This is the only standardised assessment of expressive BSL skills currently available.
  • Many children enjoy the fact that they are required to watch a film. They also enjoy describing the events from the film.
  • Can be used to monitor a child’s progress over time.
  • Can help with target setting.


  • Limited numbers of people can use this assessment. The person who records and analyses the language sample must be highly skilled and have attended the certificated training course that accompanies the assessment. Costs of training can be substantial.
  • A fluent native signer is needed in order to administer the task.
  • Carrying out and scoring the assessment is a time-consuming process and a high level of knowledge of linguistic analysis is necessary.

Is there a cost? 


Where can I access it?

You can access the online training course (including all assessment resources) at BSL Production Test Online Training Course.

You can also find more information on the City, University of London website or by getting in touch with Ros Herman at City University.