What is the E.S.S.E?

The Educational Sign Skills Evaluation (ESSE) was developed to provide a means of identifying the dominant signing style of an individual and to provide meaningful, helpful feedback on areas of strength and areas in need of improvement.  It provides an overall expressive skills rating as well as information on the type, level, and degree of understanding demonstrated receptively for both English-related signing and signing in American Sign Language. 

The E.S.S.E. consists of three different tests:

ESSE:R (receptive)

ESSE:I   (interpreting)

ESSE:T  (teacher)

Time Investment

 The time needed is approximately two hours for the ESSE:R (group administration), and approximately 1/2 to 3/4 hour for the ESSE:I or ESSE:T (individual administration). 


Individuals being evaluated can expect to receive a detailed 8 to 10 page report plus suggestions in approximately 60 to 90 days. They also receive a certificate from the SEE Center indicating the evaluation was taken and the level attained. 

Trainings for the ESSE


This workshop will review and discuss the expressive and receptive components involved with the ESSE a state approved test for K-12 educational interpreters.  Hands-on activities using classroom scenarios and/or materials will provide participants an opportunity to self-assess their knowledge of the necessary sign vocabulary associated with various classroom subjects.  Interpreting speed and fluency will be addressed through the use of timed audio materials. Small group activities will provide receptive and/or sign-to-voice practice.  In conclusion a “mock” receptive evaluation will be administered followed by a discussion of how the scoring is done.


The cost of the entire evaluation process (ESSE:R and either ESSE:I or ESSE:T) is $300.00 per person. Dates and sites for the evaluations will be posted on this web site. 

Special Arrangements

 School districts that have large numbers of interpreters in their program can make arrangements for on site evaluations by contacting the SEE Center. Travel costs will be needed for the person or persons who would be administering the evaluations.   


For further information contact 

The SEE Center for the Advancement of Deaf Children

P.O.Box 1181, Los Alamitos, CA 90720

(562) 430-1467 Office

Upcoming Trainings


Irvine, CA

April 29, 2017


Upcoming Assessments


Wichita, KS

April 29, 2017

Register HERE


Irvine, California

May 20, 2017

Register HERE

ESSE Registration

Click HERE to register for testing

Click HERE to register for training

More about the ESSE

What is the ESSE?


The ESSE:I consists of videotaped samples of actual classroom teachers and an educational interpreter is asked to interpret as s/he would to students. The interpreter is given a choice of elementary school, middle school, or high school classes. Once the school level is established, a warm-up tape is shown of similar classes. At the end of the warm-up tape thirty seconds of each of the actual classroom teachers that will be interpreted will be shown. Therefore, the individual will know what subjects they will be interpreting and have a brief exposure to the teachers style. The individual can warm up until s/he feels they are ready to be videotaped. The interpreter is videotaped while interpreting three classes, in different subject areas and with different teachers. Each session is approximately 5 minutes in length. This videotape of the interpreter is viewed by a trained panel of five members (consisting of both hearing and deaf) familiar with a variety of signing styles and with education of the K-12 levels. Each of the five panelists completes a rating form with ratings from 1 (low) to 5 (high) for five separate areas: signs, fingerspelling, expressiveness, speechreading and an overall rating. In addition, checklists provide specific information on a number of components in each area and on technical factors such as dress, grooming, indicating speakers, eye contact, etc. The ratings of the five panelists are combined for an average rating in each of the five areas plus the receptive score of the dominant style of the individual. Also included are the pooled panelists comments and feedback on each component.


The ESSE:T is designed for teachers, aides, or others wishing information on their expressive signing skills when signing for themselves. A 60-word screening test establishes the vocabulary level at basic, intermediate or advanced levels. The individual is then presented with 20 to 25 test sentences constructed with vocabulary at that level or below and including specific visual features such as negation, question marking, directionality, or placement. These sentences are presented on a transparency, and the individual is videotaped while signing them.  The individual is then given a choice of topics appropriate to the school level at which s/he works, time to organize ideas, and then an impromptu presentation on that topic is taped for approximately three minutes. This videotaped sample of signing skills is then rated by the trained panel of five members (which consists of both hearing and deaf), similar to the rating for interpreters described above. In this way, both a vocabulary sample and a more free-flowing, normal signing sample are obtained.