“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.
“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.
(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.
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.
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.