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At first glance, it may seem like just another set of niche online dating sites. Two small but growing sites devoted to dating for the deaf, both founded by children of deaf parents, now offer non-hearing singles their own place on the Internet to find love. But the recent explosion of online dating — about 17 million people at least peeked at a dating site last year, according to estimates — has created a cottage industry of smaller sites hoping to draft off the success of market monster Most services offer digital messaging, while others provide additional services such as webcasts, online chat, telephone chat (VOIP), and message boards.Members can constrain their interactions to the online space, or they can arrange a date to meet in person.According to an infographic entitled Big Data Seeks Online Love by the Berkeley School of Information, one in 10 Americans has used a dating site or mobile app, and 23 percent have met a spouse or long-term partner through these sites.In fact, 11 percent of American couples who have been together for 10 years or less met online. In 2005, 47% of people agreed that online dating allows you to find a better match; in 2013, that number went up to 53%. Forty-four percent said yes in 2005, while 59% said yes in 2013.

Deaf Match is the older of the two sites, but not by much; it launched in 2001.“I started doing research and I realized there’s a really big need for the deaf community to have this service. Why not have there be a place where I know that every person in here is at least deaf, hard-of-hearing, or can hear but has a vested interest in the deaf community.” In the first four months of operation, some 1,000 users have signed up — including Marais’ dad, who is still single, but now actively dating.Currently, is free, but Marais plans to start charging a small membership fee in the future to support additional features and Web hosting costs.Online dating (or Internet dating) is a system that enables strangers to find and introduce themselves to new personal connections over the Internet, usually with the goal of developing personal, romantic, or sexual relationships.An online dating service is a company that provides specific mechanisms (generally websites or applications) for online dating through the use of Internet-connected personal computers or mobile devices.

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