Francophone, Saharan and Mediterranean Africa
Patterns of early evidence for deaf people in Francophone, Saharan and Mediterranean Africa have some apparent differences, and there is certainly much more in Arabic sources within Africa than has yet been brought to light. Nachtigal's observations above suggest that some 19th century Saharan deaf people were known locally, their status depending largely on that of their families. They were sometimes in demand specifically for their deafness. Those of powerless background might be collected and sold into slavery, servanthood or marriage. The Turkish and Arab destinations, arduous and dangerous though they were, probably gave some deaf Africans a higher standard of living than in their home village, and sometimes also participation in a deaf signing community.
The region has major coastal cities of great antiquity, with populations large enough to make it likely that deaf men knew one another in informal groups, and sometimes in particular trades (e.g. tailoring) or cottage industries, and maintained SLs of mutual intelligibility at a basic level across large areas. 
Most of the region was earlier under Arab or Turkish rule for many centuries, so Islamic law and custom penetrated deep into the interior, though sometimes in mutated form. From the 9th century CE, Muslims in the Middle East had laws recognising the well-known signs of deaf individuals as valid in some legally important situations, such as marriage and commercial contracts.
 It is not surprising that the earliest named deaf person in the present study should appear casually in two residential property sale contracts drawn up at village Tutun in the Fayyum province of Egypt in 962 and 963 CE. The southern boundary of the houses was in each case described as "the residence of the heirs of Munah the Deaf" [Arabic: al-Asamm] (Frantz-Murphy, 1981). Being thus described might suggest that Munah had been known as a deaf person for a significant part of his life. The sole information given about him, i.e. that he had "heirs" living in property sufficiently well established as to delineate a boundary in a written legal contract, suggests a man of some significance in the local community. The data should not be pressed too far, yet it seems legitimate for Deaf people in the African Middle East to take pleasure in the record of this Egyptian deaf man's name, place, property, heirs and presumable period of life in the first half of the 10th century.
Interest in signs and gestures has been sustained among Muslim scholars not only by the Qur'anic incident (Sura 19, 1-11) where Zakariya, temporarily mute, "told them by signs / To celebrate Allah's praises" ("Holy Qur'an", revised trans., Ali, 1989, p. 746; cf. the parallel biblical story in Luke's gospel, chapter 1, verses 5-23, 57-66), but also by accounts of hand signs or gestures made by the prophet Muhammad in various situations.
For example, Muhammad was in the mosque on one occasion when "a man whose head and beard were dishevelled entered, and God's messenger pointed his hand at him as though he were ordering him to arrange his hair and his beard", so that the man retired and came back with a more orderly appearance (Baghawi, trans. Robson, reprint 1994, II: 938). Some further symbolic finger or hand signals by the prophet are described a little more closely (Baghawi, I: 594, 622, 628; II: 856, 913-14, 959-60, 1031-32, 1032, 1035, 1108, 1125, 1336. See also "Ishara", 1978; Goldziher, 1886, and digest in Bousquet, 1961, 269-72).
Nachtigal's interest in deaf people, mentioned above, may have been stimulated by Abd el-Ati, "a wandering scholar" whom he "had for some time as a companion" from 1871. This man was good-natured and "not only poor, but also half-blind and hard of hearing" [halb-blind und schwerhörig]. He lived by teaching children, writing letters for those who needed a scribe, and chanting the prayers (Nachtigal, II: 344-46). This broad social communicativeness of Abd el-Ati, whose impairments, in another man, might have led to a secluded and depressed existence, would surely have interested some Maghrebian writers in the 1970s and 1980s who had plenty to say but struggled to communicate across the barrier of the blank page.
Eric Sellin (1988) depicts the Moroccan writer Abdelkebir Khatibi (born 1938) returning "time and time again to the theme of the orally and aurally handicapped and relat[ing] their handicaps to the creative process, while Nabile Farès from Algeria uses "mute Siamese twins", a "dumb interlocutor", and other symbols of communication difficulty in his books. The sight of two deaf people in a cafe at Damascus ("They were holding a dialogue in sign language. Their hands were dancing") inspired Khatibi with the "somehow compelling alternatives to conventional speech and writing".