National Association of the Deaf Recommends to ASHA to use Fluent ASL Users for ASL Assessments

National Association of the Deaf released a video and letter to ASHA on March 3, 2019. This letter was written in response to American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) request for comments on their proposed position statement. The ASHA AdHoc Committee developed a position statement that ASL is a Distinct Natural Language.

The letter uses the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA) to emphasize that it is against federal regulations to be using interpreters in the fashion that ASHA recommended in their position statement. which is to utilize them during assessments of language (ASL). NAD also has stated that anybody that is not fluent in ASL “should never perform ASL assessments, including any attempt to do so through the use of interpreters.” They also suggest that anybody who conducts ASL Assessments must be measured by a high score on the American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) ASLPI is regulated by Gallaudet University

“In September 2008, Mr. Mel Carter transferred the intellectual property rights for the ASLPI to Gallaudet University. It is a tremendous honor bestowed upon Gallaudet University and ASL Diagnostic and Evaluation Services (ASL-DES) and one that comes with great responsibility in carrying the ASLPI into the future.” (Gallaudet)

This was in response to ASHA stating this in their proposed position statement, “Audiologists, and speech-language pathologists who are proficient in ASL provide direct assessments and intervention for ASL users to ensure a strong language foundation for future learning.”(ASHA)

ASHA also highlights the need for English in written form and the importance of having the professionals working with children to teach the English language, “Because a written language like English is not an orthographic code for a signed language like ASL, many children who are d/D/HH/DB must learn to read and write English like non-native speakers who learn to read and write English as a second language.” (ASHA) and in this effort, NAD has recognized that ASHA has framed this in a way that triggered members of the community due to the concern that they have framed the invitation

While NAD recognizes the issues behind Department of Education not recognizing ASL as a native language, the trigger was caused by the implications ASHA made that ASL’s long-established premise of being a legitimate language may be in question. Because of this, NAD has had to reframe the issue to help generate support for this specific initiative which was mainly because of ASHA’s recent statement opposing LEAD-K. “ASHA’s recent statements opposing LEAD-K, which is inconsistent with this effort to promote ASL on behalf of deaf and hard of hearing children.“ (NAD)

“We appreciate ASHA’s efforts to correct discrepancies among federal agencies and provide an accurate history on ASL. For additional framing and references, please see the NAD’s position statement on ASL.” (NAD) The letter was signed by both Howard RosenbThe National Association for the Deaf was contacted for further clarifications.