Survey: The Online Experience in the Deaf Community.

Happy creative, a marketing agency based in the UK, reveal that market research is a crucial part of any business. Although businesses may think they know who their target market is, after some research, they are often surprised – and pivot their strategy to match the data collected.

Here are three benefits of conducting market research they mention:

1. Not as Costly as You Think

Using online surveying tools or just asking your customers both provide great places to start in terms of keeping your costs down and they don’t have to take as long as you might think either.

We used Google Forms to develop and design our survey. It’s simple to use, you can customise the settings, and it’s free – the only cost is your time.

2. Reveals Opportunities

Research often reveals new areas or upcoming trends that have not yet been noticed. This is particularly important because if the business had not done the research, It is much better to be prepared for these instances and move quickly to benefit from first mover advantage.

3. Reducing Risks

By knowing who your target market is and what their expectations are; a business can reduce risk significantly because the data collected can help save money by not targeting inappropriate recipients. Most small businesses have limited resources so conducting research is effective and efficient for maximising time, money and resources.

Yellow Owl Survey: Background

The aim of the market research was to understand the online experience in the Deaf community; and explore their frustrations, barriers, opinions, and suggestions to improve. The data collected will be used to identify gaps in the digital market for content creators and brands; provide solutions in making online information more inclusive and accessible; while encouraging collaboration and innovation.

We conducted our online research between the 24th – 30th May 2021. The 60 respondents ranged from identifying themselves as culturally Deaf to being Hard-of-Hearing; and majority resided in Johannesburg, Cape Town, and KZN. From the pool of 60 participants, 7 individuals were selected for in-depth video recorded interviews. These interviews were aimed at further engaging their responses from the survey and better understanding their personal online experiences. Topical themes were as follows:

  1. Background Information

53.3% of our respondents were male, 46.7% being female.

Age groups ranged from (16-25 years) 10%, (36 -45 years) 31.7%, and (26-35 years) 53.3%.

2. Online Platforms

95% of our respondents use WhatsApp; followed by Facebook 71.7%; and Instagram 56%.

Regarding internet connection, 58.3% use data to go online; followed by 35% having wifi connection at home; and only 6.7% using public wifi connections.

The content people enjoy online watching include entertainment 65%; followed by sports 43.3%; and educational programs came in at 41.7%.

3. What is a podcast?

Respondents were given an opportunity to provide short answers for this question. Majority did not know what a podcast is, while others came close – answers included: ‘Online information via voice’ ‘An episodic series of spoken word’ ‘Interviews and discussions online’ ‘Podcasts should be available in video chat’.

4. Barriers to online information

Expensive data costs came in at 58.3%; poor network connection was a barrier for 50% of participants; and lastly loadshedding affected 38.3% when using the internet.

Furthermore, having no interpreter for online content 78.3%; no subtitles 63.3%; and people speaking too fast 33.3% caused a challenge for users online.

5. Interpreters

Some suggestions were given on how interpreters could improve their skills online: 61.7% said SASL structure needed to improve and 58.3% said socialising in the Deaf community could help interpreters get better.

6. Pandemic

Lastly, the biggest challenge during the pandemic for most respondents was wearing a face mask – as this hid important speech and facial expression needed to convey meaning during communication. While 40% suffered unemployment during these uncertain times.


A good market research should never be underestimated; it could negatively affect your bottomline and customer base. On the upside; it helps a business create new products, establish a good reputation in the industry, and ultimately strategically position the business for future trends.

By Yellow Owl

Welcome to Interpreter Insider, so glad you could join us! As an Insider you’ll be a member of this limited group of like-minded thinkers with exclusive knowledge about the ins and outs of the interpreting industry – and other related topics. You will have access to insights, experiences, tips and Yellow Owl's personal take on what the future of SASL interpreting may look like. Thuli Zikalala is the founder of Yellow Owl. This blog is a reflection of her bold decisions made about a year ago that led her to this very moment. It is a collection of the lessons learnt along her journey. Enjoy!

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