Substance Abuse Screener in American Sign Language (SAS-ASL)
The Substance Abuse Screener in American Sign Language (SAS-ASL) is an instrument specifically developed in American Sign Language and validated to screen for substance use disorders among adult Deaf and Hard of Hearing clients in vocational rehabilitation, mental health, and social service settings.

Ages – 18 years and up
Accuracy is 86% Based on empirical studies
15 minutes to administer
Video administration with paper answer sheet is available


The instrument can be used to provide access to standardized, culturally appropriate, and psychometrically sound SUD screening for deaf individuals and can be self-administered, which may be particularly valuable in programs where deaf-specific resources are limited.

 • Designed for and validated on the Deaf population: SAS-ASL is a standardized SUD screening instrument in American Sign Language, (Guthmann and Moore, 2007), the native language of most Americans who are Deaf.

• Validated Accuracy: Clinical validation research demonstrated that SAS-ASL results correctly identified 90% of those diagnosed as having a substance use disorder (90% sensitivity) and correctly identified 84% of respondents who had been diagnosed as not having a substance use disorder (84% specificity), for an overall SAS-ASL accuracy rate of 87%. In a second validation sample, also from Deaf-specialized clinical and educational settings, findings showed that 100% of individuals who were diagnosed with an SUD and 100% of those who did not have an SUD were accurately screened with the SAS-ASL (Guthmann et. al., 2012).

• Wide-range screening: SAS-ASL combines questions about alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription medications in a single questionnaire.

• Quick: On average, the SAS-ASL takes about 10-15 minutes to view and complete.

• Ease of Use: The SAS-ASL paper answer sheet is completed by clients who view the ASL video. Counselors fax the answer sheet for electronic scoring and a screening report. The report includes the overall screening result, identification of key issues for individual clients, recommendations for areas to address with individual clients and referral recommendations for more  comprehensive assessment, if warranted.

• Subtle items: SAS-ASL includes items whose content does not have an obvious relationship to substance use disorders. These items make it more difficult to create a false impression, and increase the accuracy of the screening. During the development phase of the screening questionnaire, clients who were clinically diagnosed with an SUD endorsed these items more frequently than did clients without SUDS.

• Established effectiveness: SASSI-3 (Substance Abuse Subtle Screening Inventory, 3rd edition), the parent instrument from which SAS-ASL is derived, has an extensive history of successful use in a variety of settings and populations (Heinemann et al., 2008).

• Built-In Objectivity: The SAS-ASL can be very helpful as an objective piece of information to supplement a clinical interview and other information about the client.

Guthmann, D., Lazowski, L. E., Moore, D., Heinemann, A. W., & Embree, J. (2012). Validation of the Substance Abuse Screener in American Sign Language (SAS–ASL). Rehabilitation Psychology, 57(2),140-148.

Email to request a copy of these studies.

Product Information

The SAS-ASL includes use of the Scoring & Report Service, User’s Guides, automated scoring, screening results report, and accompanying support materials

The SAS-ASL User’s Guide Includes:

  • Non-technical, step-by-step information on administering the SAS-ASL
  • Information on the development and validation of the SAS-ASL
  • Basic information on interpreting reports and resources for referral services

For more information about how to administer call us at 800.726.0526.