Language proficiency levels in ASL sign language

ASL Language Proficiency Interview (ASLPI) is an assessment tool used to determine ASL proficiency level, conducted by a qualified organization that is recognized by Deaf community.

LPI may be required by some schools, universities, agencies, employers and other programs to evaluate a candidate's language proficiency in a face-to-face interview. ASLPI certified interviewers and raters, who are native/fluent in ASL, have undergone training and years of ASLPI experience.

ASLPI consists of a structured interview of about 20-60 minutes of conversation, which is carried out between a candidate and a trained interviewer. ASL interviews are conducted either through videophone or in-person and recorded for raters.

The rater then evaluates a candidate's over performance in communicative competency including fluency, vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, etc. Then, the candidate is given an overall score, ranging from 0 (the lowest) to 5 (the highest proficiency).

Signing skill levels

According to the Sign Language Institute Canada under the Canadian Cultural Society of the Deaf, the following language proficiency levels in ASL are: [source]:

Level 0: Unable to function in the language.
Level 1: Able to satisfy routine travel needs and minimum courtesy requirements.
Level 2: Able to satisfy routine social demands and limited work requirements.
Level 3: Able to sign ASL with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate effectively in most formal and informal conversations pertaining to practical, social, and professional needs.
Level 4: Able to use the language fluently and accurately on all levels pertaining to professional needs.
Level 5: Language proficiency equivalent to that of a sophisticated native signer.

The video samples below give you some idea of what level 5 is like.

Above, the video "Deaf Joke: Deaf King Kong" by Jay Harris demonstrates a general idea of what a level 5 (the native level) might be like.

Another example for the level 5 is the narrator in the video Vital Signs.

Who are native signers? Generally, one can find Deaf native signers who come from native-signing Deaf families (not always as some parents may be oral deaf) and grow up in Deaf schools as well as some Deaf signers of hearing parents but grow up in Deaf schools.

Hearing English-ASL interpreters are usually somewhere between Level 3 and 4.

Now for the level 0 if you're wondering. Here it is below:

ASL proficiency level zero

Ha, ha! Sufficiently demonstrated.

Related posts

Resources: ASL proficiency programs.

Related posts: How long does it take to learn sign language?