Seminariet hålls digitalt, via Zoom, den 14 oktober kl. 15:30 – 17:00. Inbjudningslänk skickas ut via e-postlistor. Saknar du inbjudningslänk, kontaka Johanna Mesch:


Laura Kanto är forskare inom teckenspråk vid Niilo Mäki Institutet (Jyväskylä universitet) som arbetar med frågor om inlärningssvårigheter hos barn och ungdomar. 


Assessing and documenting children’s language development is important for everyone involved in children’s education. However, there is a lack of appropriate test instruments for measuring children’s sign language development in many countries, including in Finland. This causes the problem that there is not enough knowledge on children’s sign language acquisition and development in general, and for this reason, distinguishing typical and delayed features in individual child’s sign language development is also often difficult. Thus, there is a clear risk of under- and over-diagnosing developmental language difficulties among children acquiring sign language. In addition, the understanding of bi- and multilingualism among children acquiring sign language is still rather limited. For these reasons that have been becoming clear, especially in Finland, the VIKKE project was developed. The VIKKE project begun in 2018 at the University of Jyväskylä. At the moment, VIKKE is part of the Sign Language Centre and Niilo Mäki Institute. The aim of the project was to 1) develop assessment tools that can be used to evaluate children’s FinSL development, 2) collect large amounts of data by assessing over 100 children’s FinSL skills, and 3) develop materials and practices to support children’s FinSL acquisition. During 2018 and 2019, four existing assessments were adapted for FinSL. The three selected tests for signed language measure expressive/receptive vocabulary knowledge (British Sign Language Vocabulary Test, Mann, 2009), receptive skills in FinSL grammar (BSL Receptive Skills Test, Herman, Holmes & Woll, 1999) and narrative skills (BSL Productive Skills Test, Herman et al., 2004). The fourth test, the Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives (MAIN, Gagarina et al., 2012), which assesses the narratives of bi- and multilingual children, was adapted from Finnish. The adaptation process followed the steps outlined in previous studies (Mann, Roy, & Morgan, 2016). After piloting the assessment tools, 20 teachers working with deaf and hearing children who acquire FinSL were trained to administer the assessment tools. In 2020, the VIKKE project and the trained teachers collected data on 160 children who acquired FinSL and assessed the FinSL skills of these children.

This lecture will present in more detail the phases of the VIKKE project and the preliminary findings on children’s FinSL development. The results from multiple assessment tools and a parental questionnaire in the present study provided a more holistic view of the language abilities of the children being studied for example, by discovering the connection between their receptive and productive language skills. Furthermore, these results demonstrated the adaptation process to be a reliable and valid way to develop assessment tools for less-researched signed languages. In this lecture we will also discuss how the project aims to raise awareness and knowledge of children’s sign language development, and in this way focus on developing new materials and practices to support children’s sign language acquisition.


Gagarina, N., Klop, D., Kunnari, S., Tantele, K., Välimaa, T., Balciuniene, I., et al. (2012). Part 56. MAIN: Multilingual Assessment Instrument for Narratives. ZAS Papers in Linguistics 56. Berlin: ZAS.
Herman, R., Grove, N., Holmes, S., Morgan, G., Sutherland, H. and Woll, B. (2004). Assessing BSL Development: Production Test. London: City University.
Herman, R., Holmes, S. & Woll, B. (1999). Assessing BSL Development—Receptive Skills Test. Coleford: Forest Bookshop.
Mann, W. (2009). British Sign Language Vocabulary Test (BSL-VT). Unpublished test. London: City University.
Mann, W., Roy, P. & Morgan, G. (2016). Adaptation of a vocabulary test from British Sign Language to American Sign Language. Language Testing, 33, 3–22.

Mer om VIKKE-projektet: