The Deaf Community in Germany

Deaf Caucasian couple signing at dinner table
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An About visitor requested that I profile the deaf community of Germany. Not knowing German, I used an online translation tool to gather the information for this article. There may be some inaccuracies in this article.

The tool I used translated the English word "deaf" as "taub" in German. However, an About visitor wrote:
Gehoerlos people in Germany prefer that they are called gehoerlos not taub. Taub is seen as vulgar in Germany.

German people condescend this word "taub" and it is used in such as "What are you deaf?"

Sign Language in Germany

Sign language translated as "bearing language" with the tool. German Sign Language (Deutsche Gebärdensprache), has only fairly recently been recognized as a legitimate language in Germany.

Germany has companies such as the Signum publishing house (, which publishes sign language learning material. Another publisher is Karin Kestner,, a publisher and retailer of sign language books and sign language software.

There is also an Institute of German Sign Language and Communication of the Deaf, based at Hamburg University ( The Institute's activities include:

  • working on sign language dictionaries
  • working on sign language linguistics
  • producing CD software for learning sign
  • producing a notation (font?) system for sign language, HamNoSys

    German sign language classes and sign language teachers were found on the site

    German Deaf and Hard of Hearing Associations

    Deutscher Gehorlosen-Bund

    A primary deaf organization is the German Deaf Association ( It is the successor to the Federation of Gehorlosen Germany (REGEDE).

    The German Deaf Association is now approximately 80 years old and has 26 chapters (there is a map of regional chapters with contact information).

    The German Deaf Association appears to serve as an umbrella organization for organizations such as the Federation of Catholic Deaf Germany, an association of sign language teachers, and an association of interpreters.

    Finally, the GDA website has general deafness information, advice for hearing people, and sign language information.

    Deutsche Gesellschaft

    Another primary organization is the German society of hearing impaired self-help and professional associations ( This organization, in existence since 1962, appears to be for hard of hearing Germans but I can not tell for sure. It has 22 regional federations. At the time I visited the website, they appeared to be trying to set up an organization for hearing impaired youth (like our Jr NAD).

    Exploring the DG site, I observed the following highlights:

    • sign language alphabet
    • information on subtitled films
    • information on German telecommunications law. Telesign is a German video relay service (not clear if it exists yet). Tess is the regular relay service.
    • updates on newborn hearing screening
    • press releases
    • legal rights (antidiscrimination and disability laws)

    Deutscher Schwerhorigenbund

    A large self-help organization is It is the German Schwerhörigenbund registered association (DSB), and it is quite old, dating back to 1901. There are regional and local chapters all over Germany. Their website is quite comprehensive. Just a sampling of what is on their website:

    • Original poems by deaf/hoh Germans
    • Original columns by columnists
    • Information on church services
    • Book reviews including an original German book for teens, "Sound Check," about a deaf teen girl.

    Cochlear Implants, Interpreters, and Sports

    Cochlear Implant Users in Germany

    Cochlear implant users have the German Cochlear Implant society (Deutsche Cochlear Implant Gesellschaft, It is a member of the European Association of Cochlear Implant Users. Germany also has regional cochlear implant associations, for example, in Berlin and Bavaria. also has a list of cochlear implant organizations.

    Interpreters in Germany

    The main interpreting organization in Germany is the BGSD ( The BGSD site has a list of regional federations, and information on interpreter training and certification.

    Deaf Sports in Germany

    There is a German Deaf Sports Federation. The website is a German deaf sports site. It has deaf sports news, a calendar, and information on what looks like a deaf youth sports camp.

    Deaf Websites in Germany

    A deaf web portal is, which links to outside sites and also hosts some original content. Highlights of this site and linked sites include:

    • movies, tv ( - has news and information on subtitled or interpreted programming/DVDs and movies about deafness. There is an original German film, "The Last Deaf," about the last deaf person. Companies in Germany that do subtitling include Titelbild, Untertitel, and Vicomedia.
    • technology
    • deaf news (
    • comics (original German deaf comic strips)
    • sign language video (
    • cochlear implant information
    • hearing aids, for example, GN REsound (
    • interpreting information (service agencies, training centers, associations)
    • deaf theatre -
    • deaf movies - movies about deafness (mostly American translated into german)
    • travel (museums, etc) around Germany
    • deaf studies information
    • articles and doctoral papers that can be downloaded. A particularly interesting one was titled (loosely translated) "Deaf Culture - A subcultural approach tons of Deaf Communities in America and Germany."
    • discussion forum -
    • late deafened people in Germany seem to be served by the site
    • an event calendar

    Another deaf portal site is, which functions as an online directory complete with addresses. There is a partial English language version, and it has listings in categories such as counseling, education, interpreting, and organizations.

    Still another general deafness site is, with basic deafness information, a sign alphabet, basic information for parents, and lessons on communicating with deaf people. Finally, the site is a master database of deaf German links.

    Deaf Media in Germany

    Deaf Television

    Germany has the deaf television program "Seeing instead of hearing," a program similar to the United Kingdom's See Hear. Germany's program has its own website, at

    Deaf News

    Germany's main deaf news site appears to be The site includes blogs, and seems to also have deaf dating.

    Deaf Publications

    Germany has several deaf related publications:

    • The Indication (das zeichen). Published by the Institute of German Sign Language and Communication of the Deaf. Translates loosely to "Magazine for language and culture of gehörloser ones." It covers a variety of topics, including history, international, education, life, and reviews. At the time this article was written, the table of contents for the November issue included a circa 1815 article, "Deaf-mute as objects of medical attempts."
    • "Quarter" magazine is published by the German society of hearing impaired self help and professional associations
    • Hörgeschädigten Pädagogik appears to be aimed at hard of hearing people, and is published by the professional association of deaf teachers.
    • A magazine about deaf kids is published by Publishing house hearing-impaired children gGmbH ( It looks like a journal similar to the A.G. Bell Association's Volta Review (horgeschadigte kinder erwachsene horgeschadigte). The publication's name loosely translates to "hearing impaired children - adult hearing impaired."
    • Deutsche Gehorlosen Zeitung ( is a deaf newspaper published by the German Deaf Association.

    Deaf Education in Germany

    The British Association of Teachers of the Deaf has a good online article summarizing deaf education in Germany.

    Teachers of the deaf in Germany have their own association, the Berufsverband Deutscher Horgeschadigtenpadagogen (, which translates to "professional association for teachers of the deaf in Germany."

    The organization "Interdisciplinary association for the promotion of bilingualer/bikultureller education hearing-impaired children and young person registered association," as the name implies, promotes bilingual-bicultural education for deaf children (

    The German deaf portal, and, have lists of deaf schools and programs. One school for the deaf is the school for the deaf in Berlin (

    Deaf Kids in Germany

    Germany's website for deaf kids,, has a blog with news for deaf/hoh kids. Germany has original books on deafness for kids, and one such book is a book about a deaf boy and his dog. Deaf kids in Germany can attend a deaf camp sponsored by the German Deaf Association ( Deaf German kids can read "das bunte blatt (," a magazine similar to the American magazine World Around You. Das Bunte Blatt is published by tge professional association of Bavarian hearing-impaired paedagogues registered association, with the content produced by students at the University of Munich.

    German parents of deaf and hard of hearing children can participate in Bundesselternverband gehorloser Kinder (, an organization for parents of deaf/hoh kids (similar to the American Society for Deaf Children).

    Deaf Germans in History has a section on deaf history (Die Geschichte der Gehörlosen) that includes biographical information about three historic deaf Germans: John Goodricke (not German?), Otto Friedrich Kruse and Carl Heinriche Wilke. There is also a small selection of five articles with Deaf History information. One person well known to deaf German history is Samuel Heinicke, who in 1778 opened the first oral school for the Deaf in Germany.

    German Deaf Demographics

    The website of the German society of hearing impaired self help and professional associations states "300,000" as total of deaf/hoh, with 80,000 deaf. Other websites state that there are between 13 and 14 million people with hearing loss in Germany. More specific statistics can be found on the DSB website, which has a statistics section.

    Articles on Deafness in Germany

    Germany is a Western nation, so it is not hard to find articles about deafness in Germany. The ones listed here are just a small sampling of what is available. A search of turned up these items:

    • Learning by ear: on the acquisition of case and gender marking by German-speaking children with normal hearing and with cochlear implants. Journal of Child Language. 2004 Feb;31(1):1-30.
    • Deaf education in West Germany: some traditions and transitions American Annals of the Deaf, June 1978 volume 123 number 4, pages 500-2.

    Gallaudet Students in Germany

    Last but not least, Gallaudet University has a German Exchange Program for foreign language students, described on At the time this article was written, the page was not current.

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