New deaf dating site
And every day, Haines said, he gets e-mail from happy users who have made new connections thanks to his site.“A lot of deaf people around the country are quite lonely.“I’m doing it as a hobby,” Marais, a full-time computer security specialist, said.Deaf Match is the older of the two sites, but not by much; it launched in 2001.“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.Currently, is free, but Marais plans to start charging a small membership fee in the future to support additional features and Web hosting costs.“The Net just allows them a different way of communicating.” Estimates of the size of the deaf community vary wildly — both Haines and Marais say there are between 20 and 25 million people in the United States who face some kind of hearing loss.
Comfortable with technology The site is run as a second business by Haines, who’s first job is United TTY.com, a firm that sells assistive technologies to the deaf community.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.(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.“I did look on those hoping to find deaf partners, but of course deafness is not one of the selection criteria ...so I turned to the deaf dating sites.” Despite the challenges of using a larger dating site, many deaf folks are doing it anyway.