Computer Test for German Sign Language

The Computer-based Test for German Sign Language (CTDGS) and the Computer-based Test for Written German both are comprehension tests developed for German deaf children (ages 6-18 years). Each test is divided into three parts which assess different levels of participants’ understanding of referential distinction in both written German and German Sign Language (DGS) by measuring the following main variables: (a) picture-guided understanding of reference in isolated sentences, (b) understanding of reference within narrative context, and (c) ability to translate the understanding of referential distinction from one language into another.

Referential distinction, as understood in the present study, provides the language learner with the information needed in order to distinguish among the thematic roles and grammatical functions of different elements (i.e., agent, patient) within a sentence. To understand how these elements are interrelated and linguistically encoded enables the language learner to comprehend who (i.e., agent) is doing what to whom (i.e., patient). Such knowledge not only facilitates the learner’s early efforts in processing isolated sentences but also serves as a foundation for successful comprehension of grammatical relations within more elaborate contexts such as narratives.


Video 1: Example of the CTDGS: Understanding of reference within narrative context (© Mann, 2005)


The measures used in the present study are two computer-based language assessment tests, each of which consists of a total of forty-two items (including six practice items). All test items are presented in a fixed response format (i.e., multiple choice), based on experience with this format by many schools. For every item, the test taker is given a selection of four similar response choices of which only one is correct. To minimize the possibility of the participant arriving at the correct answer either by guessing or chance, distractors were constructed for each item. This design requires deaf participants to select the right answer from three alternative but related linguistic representations of the measured construct (i.e., referential distinction). In order to arrive at the correct response, it is important to understand how the spatial locations in the items or stimuli are used in order to be able to successfully understand any reference that is made to these locations.


For more information regarding this test, please contact  Wolfgang Mann at the University of Roehampton.