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Last Updated: Apr 17, 2017 URL: http://libguides.gallaudet.edu/deaf_statistics Print Guide RSS Updates

Deaf population of the U.S. Print Page
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Local and regional deaf populations

Holt and Hotto, in Demographic aspects of hearing impairment: questions and answers, say that demographic statistics for individual U.S. states and localities are not available, due to deficiencies in current demographic sampling surveys.

However, the Bureau of the Census has made its own estimates for both deaf and hard of hearing populations in each of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. These estimates shown below have been extracted from the Bureau's many charts posted on the World Wide Web, and compiled here. Note: When using this data, it must be remembered that it is not based on any actual counting of deaf people, and could be different from reality.

Some other estimates or "guesstimates" may (or may not) be available from the various state associations of the deaf and/or the state office on deafness, if the state has one. The American annals of the deaf annual directory issue (no.2 of each year) lists the addresses of each state association of the deaf under "Organizations and Associations--National Association of the Deaf". In the same AAD issue, under "Regional and Local Programs", are listed various agencies, some of which may be able to provide estimates for their areas.

The following figures are model-based estimates based on American Community Survey 1-Year Estimate data for 2012, for "non-institutionalized civilians" (e.g., those in the prison system are not counted). This is the latest information available as of February 2014. All of this data is available at Census.gov and the Annual Disability Statistics Compendium for 2013, in Table 1.8, covering working-age civilians, ages 18-64. For a discussion on why this limit is imposed, see page 6 in the NTID Collaboratory report.

Note that the U.S. Census Bureau identifies only "hearing difficulty" in its ACS estimates; as such, the following figures are estimates that include a wide range of hearing loss from deafness to "slight difficulty hearing on the telephone."

State Population ages 18-64 with hearing disability (est) Total population ages 18-64 (est) Deaf pct (est)
Alabama 83,376 2,937,335 2.8
Alaska 16,552 460,946 3.6
Arizona 82,244 3,866,694 2.1
Arkansas 52,197 1,761,365 3.0
California 363,508 23,798,381 1.5
Colorado 67,322 3,270,163 2.1
Connecticut 36,730 2,233,159 1.6
Delaware 9,656 561,217 1.7
District of Columbia 4,412 442,390 1.0
Florida 211,049 11,578,613 1.8
Georgia 118,214 6,117,277 1.9
Hawaii 15,857 833,610 1.9
Idaho 27,539 944,959 2.9
Illinois 126,710 8,006,505 1.6
Indiana 98,209 3,998,258 2.5
Iowa 37,882 1,862,753 2.0
Kansas 42,974 1,729,836 2.5
Kentucky 82,461 2,685,735 3.1
Louisiana 78,451 2,804,831 2.8
Maine 25,705 830,767 3.1
Maryland 55,235 3,708,246 1.5
Massachusetts 70,648 4,246,935 1.7
Michigan 137,702 6,104,749 2.3
Minnesota 63,688 3,344,084 1.9
Mississippi 49,323 1,783,844 2.8
Missouri 99,982 3,661,457 2.7
Montana 16,554 616,796 2.7
Nebraska 24,715 1,121,006 2.2
Nevada 38,405 1,705,729 2.3
New Hampshire 18,443 844,577 2.2
New Jersey 69,426 5,520,629 1.3
New Mexico 38,856 1,246,884 3.1
New York 185,731 12,402,577 1.5
North Carolina 130,610 5,966,410 2.2
North Dakota 9,476 436,041 2.2
Ohio 159,814 7,076,483 2.2
Oklahoma 71,442 2,281,244 3.1
Oregon 160,899 2,428,162 2.8
Pennsylvania 164,601 7,867,912 2.1
Puerto Rico 58,198 2,218,215 2.6
Rhode Island 12,427 666,700 1.9
South Carolina 67,426 2,868,533 2.3
South Dakota 14,074 499,064 2.8
Tennessee 103,809 3,971,009 2.6
Texas 357,574 15,858,474 2.3
Utah 30,716 1,677,068 1.8
Vermont 10,868 401,075 2.7
Virginia 79,940 5,085,461 1.6
Washington 105,878 4,321,655 2.4
West Virginia 47,463 1,140,973 4.2
Wisconsin 70,800 3,542,388 2.0
Wyoming 10,256 358,028 2.9
Total 4,022,334 195,697,202 2.1

Deaf people, as deaf people, have not been counted in the U.S. Census since 1930. The last census of the U.S. deaf population was privately conducted in 1971, sponsored by the National Association of the Deaf. For figures since then, only estimates are available. See the introduction for a short discussion of the problems of and cautions about deaf demographic statistics.

The Gallaudet Research Institute offers an excellent summary of the estimated population of deaf individuals in the United States in their 2005 answer to this perennial question. Some of their results are here reproduced.

Note that the Gallaudet Research Institute conducts demographic surveys only for deaf and hard of hearing children of school age. It does not manage surveys of the adult deaf and hard of hearing population. Nonetheless, because of repeated inquiries, it has developed its own rough estimates based on 1997-2003 data:

  "Have hearing problems"
(includes both deaf and hard of hearing)
Total U.S. population:
294,043,000
38,225,590 13%
>6 years old 691,883 1.81%
Ages 18-34:
67,414,000
2,309,000 3.4%
Ages 35-44:
38,019,000
2,380,000 6.3%
Ages 45-54:
25,668,000
2,634,000 10.3%
Ages 55-64:
21,217,000
3,275,000 15.4%
Ages 65 and over:
30,043,000
8,729,000 29.1%

How many of the above are specifically deaf and not hard of hearing? Note how the numbers in the Gallaudet Research Institute's figures from an older analysis, below, change depending on which of three different definitions of "deaf" is used:

Deaf (definition: "in both ears" 421,000 0.18%
Deaf (definition: "cannot hear and understand any speech" 552,000 0.23%
Deaf (definition: "at best, can hear and understand words shouted into the better ear") 1,152,000 0.49%

The Gallaudet Research Institute offers additional breakdowns of these figures in Demographic aspect of hearing impairments: questions and answers, third edition, http://research.gallaudet.edu/Demographics/factsheet.php.

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Prepared by Tom Harrington
Reference and Instruction Librarian
July, 2004
Updated: June, 2010
Updated: February 2014
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