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Libraries have always been a community's main source of impartial and accessible information. Books, closed-captioned or signed videos and access to computers can make a great difference in the lives of the Deaf community.

The Deaf Literacy Center began as an effort to provide quality library services to a growing Deaf community in the City of Safety Harbor. The Deaf Literacy Center is a library-based literacy program for Deaf individuals and their families. We offer small group and individualized basic literacy instruction and support services in addition to traditional library and information services to the Deaf community. The program became a countywide effort in 2000 when the Pinellas Public Library Cooperative began administering the program to residents.

Facts and Statistics about Deafness

  • According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, approximately 36 million adult Americans or 17% experience some type of hearing loss. Of these, almost 6 million are profoundly deaf.
  • More men than women experience hearing loss and statistics show that 2-3 children out of 1,000 are born deaf or have some degree of hearing loss.
  • The greatest percentages of hearing impaired persons that comprise the deaf community are seniors that are 75-years-old and over (47%).
  • The deaf community is comprised of people from all different ages, backgrounds, and cultures. There are babies that were born deaf, due to a congenital condition and seniors that have lost their hearing with age. There are many differences between deaf people and no two cases are the same.
  • Deafness should not be treated as an illness, but rather, viewed more as a cultural difference/minority group.
  • Deaf education is extremely important, as it is the tool used to bridge the gap between the hearing world and those that are Deaf/HH. Without high quality deaf education, children born Deaf or with a hearing loss, or young children that develop hearing loss, face an extreme disadvantage. 75 – 85% of deaf high school graduates test below hearing peers due to many external factors.
  • Deafness, Hearing loss and ear diseases such as otitis media can have a significantly adverse effect on the academic performance of children. However, when opportunities are provided for people with hearing loss to communicate, they can participate on an equal basis with others. The communication may be through spoken/-written language or through sign language.
  • Exposing children to members of the deaf community can be a powerful way to reassure children they are not alone and their hearing loss does not isolate them from others.
  • The traditions of the Deaf community are a reflection of their cultural values. It is understandable that many of their traditions are based on the face-to-face gathering of people who are Deaf, because communication—the lifeblood of any culture—only happens visually in this community.
  • There are more than 800,000 deaf or hard-of-hearing individuals in Florida and more than 340,000 of them live in the Tampa Bay Area.
  • Nine out of every 10 children who are born deaf are born to parents who can hear and 90% of these parents do not learn to effectively communicate with their children (through spoken English, Sign Language, cued speech or any other form).
  • American Sign Language is the third most commonly used language in the United States.

*Deafness stats:
Deafness and Hearing Impairment

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Pinellas Public Library Cooperative | 1330 Cleveland Street | Clearwater, FL 33755-5103 | Phone: (727) 441-8408 | Fax: (727) 441-8938