The deaf can be found in the same occupations as the hearing, and it should come as no surprise that there are deaf artists, writers, poets, teachers, theater groups, filmmakers, lawyers, doctors, reporters, and professors, just as there are in the hearing population.
The U.S. Census estimates New Mexico's deaf community at about 90,852, or 4.65% of the population. That number includes a wide range of hearing loss, and does not include individuals in prison; keep in mind, however, that current demographic sampling surveys have deficiencies; therefore the nationwide statistics are merely an estimate.
The New Mexico Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing's statistics note the total deaf population in the state at 4,421 or .22% of the population. The hard of hearing population of New Mexico is about 13%.
Deaf culture has its own patterns and attitudes. The deaf create plays, works of art, magazines, movies and more that are targeted for the deaf and hard of hearing. The deaf feel comfortable being around other deaf people because their shared visual language allows them to communicate with each other freely. This language, American Sign Language, or ASL, is a language with its own syntax and meaning.
The Deaf Culture Center in Albuquerque holds events that include introductory sign language classes for the hearing community interested in learning more about and communicating with the deaf.
The New Mexico Association of the Deaf holds an annual campout at different locations each year. If you're new to New Mexico, these events are a great way to meet other deaf and hard of hearing folks. The association also holds annual conferences; check their webpage for details.
Sign language is the natural language of the deaf. Because of their inability to hear, the deaf language of ASL is primarily visual, with important nuances conveyed via facial expression and hand and body placement.
For hearing persons interested in learning sign language, classes are taught through the Deaf Culture Center, beginning in October of each year. Classes can also be taken through the New Mexico School for the Deaf.
The University of New Mexico has a sign language program for those interested in becoming certified interpreters for the deaf.