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And the need to connect goes beyond shared experiences, said Pollard, of the University of Rochester.Those who communicate with American Sign Language are quite literally using a different language, one that is as distinct from English as French.“I did look on those hoping to find deaf partners, but of course deafness is not one of the selection criteria ...
“For everyone out there, shopping around makes a lot of sense.” ‘A language minority' Any Web site that helps deaf people find each other — and love — can be extremely important, said Patricia Murphy, director of the disabilities studies program at the University of Toledo.
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.
“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.
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.