Various statistics concerning the deaf

Demographic data about the hearing impaired in USA

(Contributed by Chris Lehfeldt DDS.)

For your information, here are some facts to keep in mind when offering one's perspective. Thanks. These facts are quoted from various census sources, the U.S. Census Bureau, and for more detailed info. contact Gallaudet Univ. Ctr. for Assmt. and Demo. Stds.

  1. 350,000 profoundly deaf children and adults in the nation. Of these, 65,000 are children.
  2. 19,500,00 adults who are hard of hearing.
  3. 990,000 children who are hard of hearing.
  4. Over 80% of these school aged children are being educated in the public school system.
  5. 90% of the profoundly deaf have parents who have normal hearing.
  6. In the Annual Survey of Hearing Impaired Children and Youth (1990-1991 school year) conducted by the Center for Assessment and Demographic Studies, Gallaudet College, 39% of those surveyed (N=47,973) used auditory/oral as their primary mode of communication; 58% used total communication and only 1.3% used sign language alone.
  7. 21,000,000 total individuals with some degree of hearing loss in the nation.

(Contributed by Chris deHahn at 22 Sep 1994.)

The numbers of persons with hearing problems in specific age groups in USA are as follows:

 3-17   total population  53,327,000  with hearing problems   968,000
18-34   total population  67,414,000  with hearing problems 2,309,000

For more details, check the following URL:

Demographic data about the hearing impaired in Europe

(Contributed by John Nissen at 18 Dec 1994.)

"The Market for RT in Europe", by Carruthers et al. on pp 158-63 of "Rehabilitation Technology" - Proc TIDE Congress April 1993.

In 11 countries of the then 12 in the EEC (i.e. without Greece), the numbers under hearing impairment who could benefit from RT were:

           53,000 under 15,
          838,000 between 15 and 60, and
        2,528,000 over 60;
Total   3,419,000

They do not give the population of the 11 countries, though the population of the 12 is given as 350 million. (I believe Greece has a population of 10 million.) However they do give the proportion of that population under 15, and 60+ as 3.6% and 27.2%, leaving 69.2% for the range 15-60.

           53,000 out of  12,240,000 = 0.433%
          838,000 out of 235,380,000 = 0.356%
        2,528,000 out of  92,480,000 = 2.734%
Total   3,419,000 out of 340,000,000 = 1.006%

The total with hearing impairment is approximately 1% of the population.

90% Rate

(Contributed by Richard L Cohen at 23 Aug 1994.)

There was a question from where the 90% Deaf-Deaf Marriage rate came from. The following statistics are from "The Deaf Population of the United States," by Jerome Schein and Marcus Delk, published in 1974 by the NAD.

I don't know from the limited information how the sample of over a thousand deaf people were drawn from, but the satistics are as follows:

Married Males deafened under the age of 3:
82% had deaf spouses 7% had hard of hearing spouses
Married Males deafened at the age of 3-18:
77% had deaf spouses 6% had hard of hearing spouses
Married Females deafened under the age of 3:
86% had deaf spouses 6% had hard of hearing spouses
Married Females deafened at the age of 3-18:
65% had deaf spouses 9% had hard of hearing spouses

Schein also noted that the divorce rates were far higher for marriages in which one spouse is hearing than for those in which both are deaf.

Remember that these are 1992 statistics, and no conclusions can be made as to "WHY?" from the information. And I don't know where to find updated statistics.

What I found intersing is that for the 16-24 year old Males:
84% of deaf males were single 57% of hearing males were single
and that for the 16-24 year old Females:
88% of deaf females were single 67% of hearing females were single

The percentage of single deaf people declined in the older groups, but there was still a 7-20 percentage point difference between deaf and hearing single rates. The divorce rates were basically the same for deaf and hearing people. Roughly 4 percent of the sample were divorced, with a high of 7% for the 55 to 64 year old deaf females (4% of hearing females were divorced in that age group). I have a feeling that the percentage of divorced people is much higher today for both deaf and hearing people.

Again, I caution the readers not to make any judgements on basis of the above information. It does sort of IMPLY (IMHO) that hearing parents of deaf children should be prepared for a deaf in-law, and the possiblity that Deaf Culture/ASL knowledge would be helpful. My parents do have great difficulty communicationg with my Deaf wife, never bothering to learn about Deaf Culture/ASL. They also figured my wife would be hering or, as a minimum, oral.

Last update date: 
1995 Oct 6