(Demographic statistics on the deaf community are hard to come by; the deaf cannot easily respond to random telephone polls and they are not identified in census data.) Jamie Berke, who runs the forum on deafness issues, got divorced after her deaf-hearing marriage didn’t succeed.
She likes the niche sites, citing the difficulty for single deaf people to find each other.
To celebrate the launch of Crazy Blind Date, Ok Cupid removed all of the photos from its website so that members logging into Ok Cupid Tuesday “will have to make their dating decisions based on words and wits rather than abs and, well, other body parts,” the company said in a statement.
There's nothing new about the Internet being a connection tool for geographically disconnected niches.
The number of people fluent in American Sign Language is much smaller, however, fewer than 1 million people nationwide, according to Robert Pollard, director of the Deaf Wellness Center at the University of Rochester.
Haines said members of his site include the completely deaf, aging singles who are losing their hearing — even sign language interpreters who can hear but are looking for relationships with people immersed in deaf culture. But deaf-hearing relationships are apparently the exception rather than the rule, according to anecdotal evidence.
“We were talking about online dating, and I said, ‘You should try one of these sites.’ ” His father was reluctant, Marais said, because it’s hard to find other deaf users on the larger dating sites.
“I started doing research and I realized there’s a really big need for the deaf community to have this service. Why not have there be a place where I know that every person in here is at least deaf, hard-of-hearing, or can hear but has a vested interest in the deaf community.” In the first four months of operation, some 1,000 users have signed up — including Marais’ dad, who is still single, but now actively dating.