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By coincidence, “vice president of romance” Trish Mc Dermott formerly worked as an American Sign Language interpreter, making her well-versed in the issues surrounding deaf culture. While there is no selection criteria where users can identify themselves as deaf, members can mention a desire for deaf partners in their personal description.

Full-text search was recently added to the service, making it easy to find anyone who mentions “deaf” or “American Sign Language” in their personal ad.

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.

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 ...

Those who communicate with American Sign Language are quite literally using a different language, one that is as distinct from English as French.She likes the niche sites, citing the difficulty for single deaf people to find each other.She considered trying the larger dating sites after her divorce, Berke said, but decided they wouldn’t work for her.“Can you imagine what it would be like to not even know anybody else who has your experience, how lonely and isolating that would be?Any way we can increase direct connection between deaf people is a good thing,” she said.There are not many people they can be friends with that are deaf,” he said, particularly if they live outside big cities.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.“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.“The upside of dating services is you don’t need to join to look around.You can search profiles and see what you come up with,” she said.

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