Guidelines for Authorized Adaptations of the

MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventories

August 15, 2008

The MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (CDI) Board is gratified by the research and clinical usefulness of the CDI instruments, and welcomes their adaptation into as many of the world's languages as possible. However, it is important that adaptations of the CDI adhere to shared standards and procedures that make them genuinely comparable to the original and thus insure some degree of coherence and consistency across versions. Furthermore, given the extensive work required to develop an adequate adaptation, it is important that appropriate academic and other resources be available for the project, and that duplication be avoided. For these reasons, the CDI Board authorizes specific adaptations of the CDI, using the following guidelines:

  A. The research team should have appropriate competence and resources for generating a successful adaptation, including norming and validation. We encourage collaboration among researchers in these projects. When the resources and plans are appropriate, a full, exclusive authorization (Level I) will be granted. In other cases, an individual researcher or group of researchers may wish to develop an adaptation for a specific research project, such as a dissertation, without plans for full norming and validation. In these cases, a limited, nonexclusive authorization (Level II) will be granted, which does not include the right to use the term “MacArthur” or “CDI” in the title, or to distribute the form to others. This does not preclude a later individual or research group from proposing a full adaptation.
  B. The proposed adaptation should contain the major communicative structure categories that are in the original. Specifically, adaptations of the CDI:Words & Gestures should assess receptive and expressive vocabulary, and gestures. Adaptations of the CDI:Words & Sentences should assess expressive vocabulary and grammar, the latter in a format appropriate to the structure of the language. Adaptation of other components of the original CDIs is optional, as is the addition of new components not in the English CDIs. New components should be consistent with the general CDI approach, which is parent-report, primarily in a recognition format.
  C. Adaptations should provide unique content above and beyond previously authorized CDIs. Note that CDI versions covering a closely related language or an additional dialect can sometimes meet this criterion. For example, we have authorized adaptations for Mandarin and Cantonese versions of Chinese; for German and Austrian German; and for several of the languages of Spain , i.e., European Spanish, Galician and Catalan. Authors submitting requests for authorization to develop instruments for a language or dialect close to an existing, previously authorized one should information about the differences that they believe justify the proposed new versions. Minor differences in pronunciation or vocabulary items can generally be handled by writing in the variations on existing forms.

Both parent report and vocabulary checklists have long histories antedating the development of the CDI, and nothing here precludes the development of qualitatively different instruments along other lines. Those instruments, however, should not be characterized as MacArthur or MacArthur-Bates CDIs. Investigators unsure whether their work might infringe on the copyright of the CDIs should address their questions to the CDI Board.
Investigators interested in developing an authorized adaptation of the CDI should follow these steps:


1. Describe the proposed project, addressing the guidelines listed above, and submit this proposal to the MacArthur-Bates CDI Board. Philip Dale ( is the contact person for these requests. The request should include:

- a statement of the nature of the proposed adaptation, including which forms will be adapted and the plan for the adaptation, plans for norming and validation (if any), and in the case of languages closely related to those with existing authorization, an explanation of the need for a new adaptation

- names and vitas for the principal authors of the adaptation

- an approximate timetable

The CDI Board will provide written authorization of approved projects, and would be happy to maintain contact during the development period, if the research team finds consultation useful.


2. When the adaptation is complete, a copy should be sent to the MacArthur-Bates CDI Board (again via Philip Dale) for final approval. Only with this final approval, provided in writing, is use of the term “MacArthur-Bates CDI” or equivalents permitted. Approved adaptations will be listed on the CDI website
( ) with links to the instrument and to the adaptation team. Note that there is no requirement that the term “MacArthur-Bates CDI” be used in the title of adaptations. When it is not used in the title, a footnote or other prominent note should be included on the form acknowledging that this is an authorized adaptation of the MacArthur-Bates CDI.

  3. Authors of approved versions who wish to explore commercial publication of their MacArthur-titled instruments must obtain explicit, written permission from the CDI Board, holders of the CDI copyright. This permission will normally be granted automatically, with no charge, for all languages other than English or Spanish, if the previous steps have been followed. All authorizations for publication by the CDI Board are for specific adaptations whose development have been previously authorized, and have no implications for other adaptations. For adaptations into other dialects of English or Spanish, our copyright and contractual arrangements with Brookes Publishing entail a negotiated agreement with Brookes as well as with the CDI Board.




Last Updated June 2013


copyright 2003 CDI Advisory Board