Engaging with the Deaf Community: Raising awareness of the British Sign Language Translation of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire

Clinical research shows that deaf children have 2-3 times higher levels of mental health problems than the hearing population. They are less likely to receive help, and qualitative research shows that mental health services are not well equipped to support deaf children, young people and their families (Beresford et al, 2010; Greco et al, 2009). The Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) is used as a screening tool and an outcome measure in the national Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). It is a self-report questionnaire, developed to improve the detection of child psychiatric disorders. The three written English SDQs (one for children and young people, one for parents and one for teachers) show good levels of accuracy (sensitivity (63.3%) and specificity (94.6%)). The SDQ can be completed at the beginning and end of treatment to assess treatment, and is frequently used to evaluate CAMHS.

Our translation of the SDQ into British Sign Language is reported in:
Roberts, S., Wright, B. J. D., Moore, K., Smith, J., Allgar, V. L., Tennant, A., ... Rogers, K. (2015).
Translation into British Sign Language and validation of the Strengths and Difficulties
Questionnaire. NIHR Journals Library, 3(2). DOI: 10.3310/hsdr03020

We used a methodology widely used to translate mental health questionnaires by organisations such as the WHO. This method involves translating from English into BSL, with back translations done
independently, followed by a revision of the BSL version until the two versions matched. The resulting translations were tested out on a focus group, and approved by the original author of the SDQ. The BSL version of the SDQ can be found on the internet, at:

Having done a successful translation that has been approved by the original authors of the SDQ
(Goodman et al), we wish to make the Deaf community more aware of the availability of the test in BSL, and to reassure them of the rigour of the translation process we used. Other translations of mental health assessment tools into BSL are currently being done in York, and we would like to increase the confidence of the Deaf community in the quality and inclusiveness of the translation process — inclusive because it involves a team of Deaf/BSL people. We also want to increase awareness among professionals working with Deaf children and adolescents about the availability of the SDQ in BSL, with the aim of increasing its uptake.


Professor Richard Ogden, Professor Barry Wright, Helen Phillips, Chris Bojas.