The Australian English Communicative Development Inventory (OZI) is a MacArthur-Bates parent report tool for assessing language development at 12-30 months of age. The OZI-SF is a recently developed, short-form (100-item) version of the OZI checklist developed in consultation with parents of 12–30 months old children from the BabyLab infant research facility and from early childhood centres in western Sydney, to support earlier and more accurate referrals for speech-language pathology.

Communication development in infancy is important for a child’s future. Studies have shown that a child’s vocabulary at around 2 years of age can predict linguistic and cognitive skills, literacy achievement, maths achievement, verbal memory and self-regulation years later. Additionally, if a child needs extra support in their communication development, earlier intervention is more beneficial. MARCS research developed and validated the OZI, a parent checklist of children’s communication. It is an authorised adaptation of the MacArthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory (Words and Gesture) for Australian English. We also created and validated a short practical version, the OZI-SF (abbreviation of Short Form). The checklist includes 100 words of spoken vocabulary – a snapshot of words which children tend to learn at this age. Additionally, the checklist includes 12 gestures, and 6 games/routines, to measure early non-verbal communication.

In order to have wide impact in enabling assessment of infants’ language and detecting development delays, we have developed and set up a website that hosts an online version of the OZI-SF. The web-based OZI-SF tool is user-friendly; a parent can complete it on their own, or in conversation with an early childhood educator, GP or speech pathologist. Parents report if the child says each item in any language, so it is suited to bilingual or multilingual families. At the end of the survey, the parent is sent a report about their child’s communication. Although the OZI-SF can’t be used to give a diagnosis, the report is a great tool for parents and carers to take along to a speech pathologist or GP to start a conversation about a child’s communicative development. Use of OZI-SF has been implemented into the daily practice and training of staff at 16 clinics and agencies from NSW, NT, Vic, SA, Tas (clinicians, speech pathologists, allied health workers)

The approach to impact has included the development of a comprehensive, user-friendly, online tool which can be used to administer and score the OZI-SF. Parents and professionals can use this information to make decisions about follow-up. MARCS researchers have also invested heavily in building relationships with stakeholders and consumers to inform tool development and to ensure its uptake. For instance, researchers have hosted two online webinars, attended by over > 200 professionals.

Read more about the project here


ERLI (Early Language Inventory) is a checklist of first words and hand signs for Indigenous children 8-36 months, developed with and for Indigenous families by a large team of Aboriginal and non-Indigenous researchers at Western Sydney University to provide an early communication checklist that acknowledges and respects diverse Indigenous home languages and dialects.