Choosing Which Assessment to Use for ASL Proficiency

By Mary Pat Luetke-Stahlman

Edited: EIPA was inaccurately labeled as a certification when it is actually an assessment.

Being able to successfully obtain jobs at organizations that provide services and resources that are vital to the Deaf community--such as schools for the deaf, commissioners for the deaf and hard of hearing, day programs for deaf clients, and other diverse programs--often requires the individual to have adequate ASL knowledge. Evaluation testing for interpreters and educators vary based on what skills are needed to accomplish an appropriate level of communication for the particular position or job.

There are educators and interpreters who use ASL. Language used in education settings are very different compared to legal and medical settings so an evaluator would not assess an individual’s level of proficiency in legal and medical fields the same way they would if the individual was going to work in educational or informal settings. There are three different basic evaluations offered to test and certify a person’s level of comprehension and proficiency in ASL.

American Sign Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) - The ASLPI is an evaluation used to determine global ASL proficiency. Agencies, schools, universities, programs, and employers use the ASLPI to gauge the person’s overall proficiency level on a 0-5 scale, often to assist with the decision making process for eligibility with professional opportunities and advancements. (ASLPI Information Here)

Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI) Certification Program - The primary goal of the BEI certification program is to ensure that prospective interpreters are proficient in their ability to meaningfully and accurately comprehend, produce, and transform ASL to and from English. (BEI Testing Site Here)

Educational Interpreter Performance Assessment (EIPA) Certification Program - Several states already require the EIPA assessment as satisfactory proof of adequate competency for paid positions as an educational interpreter. Most states have additional requirements, such as university credits, continuing education units (CEUs), and background checks. (EIPA Information Here)

National Interpreter Certificate (NIC) - The Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf (RID) used to administer the National Interpreter Certification Exam, and the Center for the Assessment of Sign Language Interpretation (CASLI) has since then taken over in operating it. To have this certificate is demonstrate general knowledge that meets or exceeds the minimum professional standards “as deemed necessary.” (NIC Certification Site)

It is important that administrators know the appropriate use of specific evaluation tools for educators’ and interpreters’ ASL proficiency for certain settings or duties. The ASLPI is best fit for educators given that it is an overall assessment of ASL proficiency while the BEI and the EIPA assessments are for interpreters. The evaluation of ASL proficiency for general interpreting would call for the BEI, whereas the EIPA targets K-12 educational interpreting.

Editor’s Note: This list is not all inclusive, and it is intended to assist individuals on understanding differences between the varying assessments available for ASL proficiency.