To gain access to a wide age range of people who identify as Deaf, members of the national organization, the Australian Association of the Deaf, were surveyed by mail.
Results showed that Short Message Service (SMS), telephone typewriters (TTY), voice/TTY relay services, fax, and e-mail were used regularly.
Young people adopted SMS for the reasons that Christensen said they would adopt a disruptive technology—because it was cheaper and more convenient to their life style (you did not have to interrupt what you were doing to receive a message), but for most users SMS has not supplanted the voice aspect of a mobile phone which is used for more complex messages.
For the Deaf, however, the mobile phone may prove to be a disruptive technology if it causes them to forsake other technologies.
Before the advent of SMS, Deaf people had no use for the mobile phone; for them SMS did more than sustain and improve existing technology, it was “disruptive” for Deaf people in the sense that it has made them a new market for the phone companies and it has enabled Deaf people to contact hearing people who use SMS much more easily and more cheaply than they can with other technologies.
In the more usual everyday sense of the word, SMS has been disruptive because it has become for some Deaf people a main means of socialization.
In his 1997 book, , Christensen distinguished between “sustaining technologies,” which improve the performance of existing products, and “disruptive technologies,” which emerge and are cheaper and more convenient and which eventually overtake the market, supplanting sustaining technologies.
Christensen's thesis helps us understand the implications of Deaf people's rapid adoption of SMS.
For reasons discussed in Power and Power (2004) having to do with higher pricing of mobile phone voice calls relative to SMS text messages and cooperative pricing and connection arrangements between mobile phone companies, SMS became widely used among both Deaf and hearing Australians, Europeans, and Asians.
The use of two-way interactive pagers by Deaf people did not become common in those areas, although they were used between Deaf people and between Deaf and hearing people in North America.
A hearing person who cannot sign at a function with signing Deaf people without an interpreter is by definition socially deaf in that context.