Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Structure and Videodisc Adaptation of the Transition Competence Battery (TCB) for Deaf Adolescents and Young Adults

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Structure and Videodisc Adaptation of the Transition Competence Battery (TCB) for Deaf Adolescents and Young Adults

Article excerpt

Career and vocational assessment for adolescents and young adults who are deaf has gained considerable recognition in recent years (Shiels, 1986; Sligar, 1983). Such assessment is especially relevant in light of the federal transition initiative (Will, 1984), which calls for an increased emphasis on vocational and independent-living skill instruction for people with disabilities, and the Carl D. Perkins Act of 1984, which requires an accurate appraisal of the work abilities of students enrolled in approved vocational education programs (Hursh & Kerns, 1988; Stodden, 1986). Reliable and valid assessment information should serve to both guide and evaluate transition interventions by documenting the individual's functional skills and abilities (DeStefano, 1987; Frey, 1984; Reiman & Bullis, 1987). During the late 1980s, however, no content-relevant, standardized, psychometrically adequate assessment tools were available to assess the transition-related (vocational and independent living) skills of adolescents and young adults who are deaf (Allen, Rawlings, & Schildroth, 1989; Bullis, Freeburg, Bull, & Sendelbaugh, 1990; Reiman & Bullis, 1987).

In the fall of 1986, we were awarded a Field Initiated Research Study from the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), U.S. Department of Education, to develop such an instrument: the Transition Competence Battery for Deaf Adolescents and Young Adults (TCB) (Bullis, 1986). The development and preliminary psychometric properties of the TCB are described in detail in other publications (Bullis & Reiman, 1992; Bullis, Reiman, & Davis, 1990), and the TCB is currently available through a private publisher (Reiman & Bullis, 1993). The TCB is designed for those persons who are deaf and who enter the work force or vocational training program on exiting high school. It consists of six subtests, three corresponding to vocational skills and three corresponding to independent living skills. A group administration mode (six to eight persons per group) is employed, and each item consists of a three-option, multiple-choice response format. The items are presented to the group by means of a signed videotape shown on a color monitor, coupled with a simply worded and illustrated test booklet. Each individual independently marks the answers that he or she judges to be the best responses, on a separate answer sheet.

The average reading ability of the adult deaf population is estimated to be around the 4th-grade level (Trybus & Karchmer, 1977); and - in our experience with the TCB - this level can vary widely for individuals across content areas and items. The video component of the TCB is thus essential, because it presents each item and its respective response options in sign communication. Further, because the signing skills and techniques of professionals vary, the video store approach maintains a standardized administration of the subtests. Stated differently, if several people were to sign the items on the TCB, each person would probably sign those items differently, introducing error into the testing process and skewing the resulting scores. Video presentation of the TCB was thus critical to (a) ensure uniformity in the testing process and (b) maximize the likelihood that individuals being tested would understand the questions being asked and respond in an informed way.

At the same time, we found it difficult and time consuming to develop a universal signed approach for a population who not only exhibited varying reading levels, but also used varying sign systems and different signs across and within different geographical locales. Further, no research was available to provide guidance on how assessment instruments should be structured to be as responsive as possible to the unique communication characteristics of this population (Reiman & Bullis, 1987). Nor did we have other instruments to use as models. Specifically, despite promising preliminary results (Bullis et al. …

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