Many deaf people believe that they possess a "sixth sense" which allows them to intuitively know if another person is deaf or hearing. Research indicating differences in deaf people's mannerisms, language use, and attitudes when compared to hearing people is discussed in this paper. This study tested that theory by videotaping native and non-native users of ASL(both hearing and deaf) in a natural conversation. This videotape was then shown to three groups of subjects - one deaf, one hearing with experience in ASL and Deaf Culture, and one hearing without exposure to ASL and Deaf Culture. The subjects were asked to pick out the deaf people in the conversations, and rate the certainty of their response;later they were asked, why they answered the way they had. The results of the hearing groups and the deaf group were compared, and indicated that there are a number of factors used by deaf people to identify other deaf people. Deaf people do seemto have a "sixth sense", which is influenced primarily by the level of ASLskill used in the conversation. Reasonswhy this may occur are discussed,and the need for future research is indicated.
Department, Program, or Center
Master of Science of Secondary Education of Students Who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing (NTID)
Bienias, Sarah, "The Deaf sixth sense: fact or fiction? Deaf identification by deaf and hearing observers" (2005). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus