BSL Cognitive Screening Test

What is it?

The BSL CST is a screening tool for assessing cognition designed wholly in British Sign Language, to help detect dementia and acquired cognitive impairment in older deaf adults. It is designed to screen all areas of cognition, with items relating to memory, language, executive function, visuospatial ability, orientation and attention. It can be used detect neurodegeneration, or as a clinical baseline for future comparison.

What is involved?

This is a 30-45 minute test. It is designed to be administered by qualified clinical psychologists with a good level fluency in BSL because responses must be understood in BSL and recorded on a scoresheet. Clinicians may have to give additional test prompts in BSL. It is not validated for use via BSL interpreters.

The BSL Cognitive Screening Test is a wholly clinician-operated test, with standardised items and video instructions presented via video to the respondent in BSL. The clinician operates the test and enters response data. Once data is entered, a test report will be generated.

Who is it suitable for?

  • Older deaf adults aged 50-89 years where there is concern about a change in cognition. It may also be administered to younger deaf adults but there are no norms for younger age groups.
  • This test CANNOT be used for measuring cognition in deaf adults with developmental or learning disabilities. It is designed for assessing acquired cognitive problems only.

What normative data is available?

Older deaf adults aged 50 – 89 years for four age-bands: 50-59,60-69, 70-79, 80-89.

Who should use this test?

  • This test should only be used by qualified clinicians, who are fluent in BSL, with the supervision of a qualified clinical psychologist who is skilled in test interpretation.
  • Use of this test for diagnosis of dementia, neurodegenerative disorders, or acquired or developmental memory difficulties must be done in the context of full medical diagnostic workup, detailed clinical history, neuroimaging and medical tests. Other neuropsychological testing should also be used for diagnostic workup and differential diagnosis.

Test citation

Atkinson, J., Denmark, T., Marshall, J., Mummery, C., & Woll, B. (2015). Detecting Cognitive Impairment and Dementia in Deaf People: The British Sign Language Cognitive Screening Test. Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology.

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Scoring from video

Use downloaded scoresheet to enter responses. The test report can be downloaded once all scores are entered.


Data is generated in CSV format for easy import into your preferred data management software

Task data

A separate CSV file is generated for each participant. Each contains the raw data including the order in which the items were presented and the score for each item.

Accuracy data

The overall maximum score for each trial is 12.

For questions related to this test, please contact the task owner, Jo Atkinson.