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Last Updated: Sep 12, 2017 URL: http://libguides.gallaudet.edu/deaf_statistics Print Guide RSS Updates

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Deaf populations overseas

Note before reading: Many advances have been made within the member nations of the European Union in terms of deaf-population metrics. However, figures rely largely on what is self-reported by the nations which are home to associations of the deaf that belong to the European Union of the Deaf; therefore, they may largely be estimates. Unless otherwise noted (as in the case of official government figures, which are indeed noted), they should be treated as such. In addition, some member countries have recently emerged from the Iron Curtain and have only recently been able to build a body of statistical data that would point to figures for their deaf population; those countries therefore have only their self-reported figures from the EUD member Web site. Countries lacking specific statistics regarding sign language users have had available data from Ethnologue added. See the bottom of this page for the complete citation.

Austria
Number: "8,000 to 10,000," (May 2010), Österreichischer Gehörlosenbund (ÖGLB) (Austrian Deaf Society) factsheet, EUD.eu.

Belgium
Number:

    • about 610,000 deaf students (2004). (Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, p.33.)
    • "approx. 500,000," according to Belgian Federation of Frenchspeaking Deaf factsheet (2009), EUD.eu
    • "800,000 people in Flanders have some sort of audiological problem (so this also includes deafened people, old people, etc.)" (2009)

Belgium-Fevlado factsheet

      ,

EUD.eu

Prevalence: Prelingually deaf: 60 per 100,000 (1950); 51 per 100,000 (1974). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.1 p.252.)
Sign language users:

  • "50,000" (official or approximate number of Deaf people using sign language as their primary language) (2009) Belgian Federation of Frenchspeaking Deaf factsheet, EUD.eu
  • "Between 4,000 and 6,000 in Flanders." (2009), Belgium-Fevlado factsheet, EUD.eu
  • Flemish Sign Language users: 4,500 (De Clerck, The Flemish Deaf Community and the Challenge of Breaking Through Barriers in the Educational System, in Deaf people around the world (2009)).

Bulgaria
Number: "approx. 50,000 (no official statistics)," (January 2010), Union of the Deaf in Bulgaria factsheet, EUD.eu.

Croatia
Number: "20,000," (January 2010), Croatian Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, EUD.eu.
Sign language users: "12,000," (January 2010), Croatian Association of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, EUD.eu.

Cyprus
Number: "1,000," (January 2010), Cyprus Deaf Federation, EUD.eu.
Sign language users: "600," (January 2010), Cyprus Deaf Federation, EUD.eu.

Czech Republic
Number: "7,000," (January 2010), Czech Republic Union of Deaf and Hard of Hearing, EUD.eu.
Sign language users: "6,000," (January 2010), Czech Republic Union of Deaf and Hard of Hearing, EUD.eu.

Denmark
Number:

  • "Approximately 3500 people are deaf." (1986). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.3 p.67.)
  • 4-5,000 as of January 2010, according to the Danish Deaf Association factsheet, EUD.eu. The same figure is used for the number of sign language users in Denmark.

Prevalence: Prelingual, 43 per 100,000 (1943). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.1 p.252.)
Sign language users:

Estonia
Number: "2,000 (including HoH)," (January 2010), Estonian Association of Deaf, EUD.eu.
Sign language users:

  • "1,500," (January 2010), Estonian Association of Deaf, EUD.eu.
  • "4,500 users out of 1,600 deaf and 20,000 hearing impaired. 2,000 persons need regular help from interpreters (1998 U. Sutrop)." Ethnologue, Viipekeel (Estonian Sign Language) (2010).

Finland
Number:

Sign language users:

France
Number:

  • About 3,500,000 persons with hearing loss (1986).
  • Approximately 800,000 "who do not hear normal conversational speech (60dB loss or more)" (1986). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol. 1 p.431.)
  • 3,000,000 (May 2010), French Deaf Association factsheet, EUD.eu

Prevalence: 47 per 100,000 (1946). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.1 p.252.)
Sign language users:

Germany (former West Germany only)
Number: estimated 50,000 prelingually profoundly deaf people (1986). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.1 p.252.)
Prevalence: 43 per 100,000 (1950). Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.3 p.77.)
More recent figures for unified Germany: " 100,000 (estimate)," (April 2010), from Deutscher Gehörlosen-Bund (German Deaf Association) fact sheet, EUD.eu.

Great Britain (see also "United Kingdom" for more recent numbers)

 Number:

  • "Deaf population 909,000 to 3,524,725 (1998)." (Ethnologue, http://www.ethnologue.com/show_country.asp?name=United+Kingdom)
  • "About 62,000 people over age 16 have very severe hearing problems, and about 2.3 million have some degree of hearing difficulties" (2004). (Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, p.211.)

Prevalence: "profound prelingual deafness...estimated to be between .8 and 1.5 per 1,000 live births" (2004). (Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, p.211.)
Sign language users:

  • No figure for total number of users; up to 30,000 deaf people in the UK have been educated via BSL (1986). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.3 p.62.)
  • "Approximately 30,000 people use British Sign Language as their main method of communication" (2004). (Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, p.211.)
  • "40,000 L1 users (1984 M. Deuchar), out of 909,000 deaf; majority probably have some degree of sign language competence (Deuchar 1977)." From Ethnologue, BSL (2010).

Scotland only
Number:

  • About 4000 profoundly deaf people known, total number is certainly higher. (1986) (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.3 p.5.)
  • "...an estimated 4,000 deaf adults in Scotland, with another 2,000 students receiving help for some form of hearing loss" (2004). (Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, p.184.)

Greece
Number:

  • No figures available for adults. Estimated over 1600 profoundly deaf children aged 5-19, based on official estimated percentage for the U.S. (1986).
  • Estimate of a further 11,000 or more hard-of-hearing children, based on official estimated percentage for the U.S. (1986). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.1 p.480.)
  • Estimated deaf population: 12,000, out of a general population of 11,000,000, as of April 2010, according to Hellenic/Greek Deaf Association factsheet on EUD.eu.

Sign language users:

Hungary
Number:

  • "The total number of hearing impaired pupils in schools for the deaf and hard of hearing is 1,426." Of this number, 898 are deaf, the remainder hard of hearing. However, most hard of hearing children attend regular public schools. No number available for adults. (1999). (Brelje, p.176.)
  • "Hundreds of thousands of people suffer from hearing loss in Hungary. Tens of thousands are fully deaf." (January 2010) SINOSZ factsheet, EUD.eu. 

Sign language users: "Approximately 20,000," (January 2010) SINOSZ factsheet, EUD.eu. 

Iceland
Number: 250, (January 2010) Icelandic Deaf Association factsheet, EUD.eu. Same figure used for Sign language users.
Prevalence: 76 per 100,000 (1948). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.1 p.252.)

Ireland, Northern
Number: The government's Departments of Education and of Health and Social Services have published figures showing more than 1100 deaf persons and more than 2500 hard-of-hearing persons; the latter number is "probably understated". (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.2 p.98.)
Prevalence: 45 per 100,000 (1956). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia vol.1 p.252)

Ireland, Republic of
Number: "30,000, including Hard of Hearing," (January 2010), Irish Deaf Society factsheet, EUD.eu
Prevalence: in the school-going population, "hearing loss sufficiently great to warrant the use of a hearing aid", 90 per 100,000 (1980). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.2 p.100)
Sign language users: "5,000," (January 2010), Irish Deaf Society factsheet, EUD.eu
City of Dublin only
Number: 800 deaf persons (1986). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.3 p.82.)

Italy
Number:

  • "...at least 70,000 profoundly deaf people, including 9,000 of school age" (1955, 1980). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.2 p.105.)
  • "In general, hearing loss occurs in about 8-10 percent of the general population, or about 3.5 million Italians" (2004). (Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, p.113.)
  • "About 60,000," (February 2010), Ente Nazionale per la protezione e l'assistenza dei Sordi - Onlus (Italian National Association of the Deaf) factsheet, EUD.eu

Prevalence: Nationwide, 14 per 100,000; northern region, 9 per 100,000; central region, 15 per 100,000; southern region, 20 per 100,000 (1980). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.2 p.105.)

Latvia
Number: "2,000," (February 2010), Latvian Association of the Deaf, EUD.eu.
Sign language users: "2,000," (February 2010), Latvian Association of the Deaf, EUD.eu.

Lithuania
Number: "8,800," (February 2010), Lithuanian Deaf Association, EUD.eu.
Sign language users: "6,300," (February 2010), Lithuanian Deaf Association, EUD.eu.

Luxembourg
Number: "250," (February 2010), Vereinigung der Gehörlosen und Schwerhörigen Luxemburg a.s.b.l.Union of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing of Luxembourg, EUD.eu.

Malta
Number: "400," (February 2010), Deaf People Association, Malta, EUD.eu.
Sign language users: "approximately 120," (February 2010), Deaf People Association, Malta, EUD.eu.

Netherlands
Number:

  • "have no functional hearing at all," about 28,000; "hearing-impaired to the extent that understanding speech in a quiet environment is difficult," about 400,000 or 3.4% of the total national population (1986). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.2 p.237; vol.3 p.70.)
  • "About 3.4 percent of this population of 14.4 million is hard-of-hearing, and about 28,000 to 931,761 of these are deaf..." (2004). (Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, p.150.)
  • "approximately 30,000," (Febrary 2010), Dovenschap Nieuwe Stijl factsheet, EUD.eu.

Sign language users:

Norway
Number:

Prevalence: 53 per 100,000 (1930). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.1 p.252.)
Sign language users: about 4000 (2004). (Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, p.155.)

Poland

Number:

  • "...about 700,000 people with hearing impairments, of which about 50,000 are deaf" (1986). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.3 p.100.)
  • "approximately 100,000 (including hard of hearing)," (April 2010), Polski Związek Głuchych (Polish Deaf Association) factsheet, EUD.eu.

Sign language users: "approximately 50,000," (April 2010), Polski Związek Głuchych (Polish Deaf Association) factsheet, EUD.eu.

Portugal
Number:

Romania
Number: "350,000," (May 2010), Romanian National Association for the Deaf, EUD.eu.
Sign language users: "18,000," (May 2010), Romanian National Association for the Deaf, EUD.eu.

Serbia & Montenegro
Number: "Upon 2004, evidence in Serbia [indicates that] there are 32,000 Deaf people." [date unknown], SAVEZ GLUVIH I NAGLUVIH SRBIJE (Association of Deaf and Hard of Hearing of Serbia), EUD.eu.
Sign language users: "Upon 2005, evidence [indicates that] in Serbia there are about 25,000 Serbian SL users." [date unknown], SAVEZ GLUVIH I NAGLUVIH SRBIJE (Association of Deaf and Hard of Hearing of Serbia), EUD.eu.

Slovak Republic (Slovakia)
Number: "Approximately 40,000 hearing impaired." [date unknown], Slovak Association of the Deaf, EUD.eu.
Sign language users: "Approximately 10-20,000." [date unknown], Slovak Association of the Deaf, EUD.eu.

Slovenia
Number: "2,000," (September 2008), Deaf and Hard of Hearing Clubs Association of Slovenia, EUD.eu.
Sign language users: "1,850." (September 2008), Deaf and Hard of Hearing Clubs Association of Slovenia, EUD.eu.

Spain
Number:

  • deaf population of 120,000 (2004). (Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, p.194.)
  • 3353 deaf pupils were enrolled in schools and other special education centers for the deaf (1986-1987). (Brelje p.353.)
  • "Around one million ... deaf and hard of hearing." [date unknown]. National Confederation of Deaf People factsheet, from EUD.eu.
  • "About 90,000 of those people [with hearing loss] (10%) have early, profound deafness ... " (2009). Puente, Alvarado, and Valmaseda, The Deaf Community in Spain, in Deaf people around the world.

Sign language users:

  • "Around 120,000" [date unknown]. National Confederation of Deaf People factsheet (see above).
  • Catalan Sign Language: "18,000 (1994)." Ethnologue, CSL (2010).

Sweden
Number:

  • about 8000 deaf persons and about 200,000 hard of hearing (1986). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.3 p.245.)
  • "There are an estimated 530,000 deaf and hard-of-hearing people in Sweden" (2004). (Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, p.197.)
  • "10,000" deaf people in Sweden. [date unknown]. Swedish National Association of the Deaf factsheet, EUD.eu.

Prevalence: 87 per 100,000 (1930). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.1 p.252.)

Sign language users:
  • approximately 8000 (1986). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.3 p.109.)
  • Swedish National Association of the Deaf (see above link) estimates 13,000 as of 2008.

Switzerland
Number:

  • Unofficially estimated at about 7200 deaf persons; does not include hard-of-hearing but may include persons deafened by old age (1986).
    • Ethnic breakdown: Approximately 6000 of these in the German-speaking regions; about 1000 in the French-speaking regions; and about 200 in the Italian-speaking region.
    (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.3 p.111.)
  • "Approx. 10,000 Deaf and 500,000 Hard of Hearing," (April 2010), Swiss Federation of the Deaf factsheet, EUD.eu.

Prevalence: 94 per 100,000 (1954). (Gallaudet Encyclopedia, vol.1 p.252.)
Sign language users:

United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland)

Number: "Government figures put this at 70,000 profoundly deaf people." (May 2010), British Deaf Association factsheet, EUD.eu.


SOURCES:

Brelje, H. William. Global Perspectives on the Education of the Deaf in Selected Countries. Hillsboro, OR: Butte Publications, 1999.

European Union of the Deaf, EUD.eu.

Gallaudet Encyclopedia of Deaf People and Deafness. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986.

Lewis, M. Paul (ed.), 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Tex.: SIL International. Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com/.

Moores, Donald F., and Miller, Margery S. (eds.). Deaf People around the World: Educational and Social Perspectives. Washington, DC: Gallaudet University Press, 2009.

Turkington, Carol, and Sussman, Allen E. Encyclopedia of Deafness and Hearing Disorders, second edition, updated. New York: Facts on File, 2004.

* * * * * * * * * *

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