Some subtle changes on dating websites could create better opportunities for users to indicate if they would at least be willing to date people like me. On disabled-specific dating websites, a profile question on why users want to meet other disabled people might be helpful to sort out why people are using the website and the type of person they hope to meet. They aren't conducive to conveying the sensitive, caring and confident image I would like to project and limit the usability of these websites.
After that first rejection, I updated my profile to include my disability. Dating websites now have a lot of data on their users and how they interact, and I hope they use their expertise to better advise users, including those with disabilities, on strategies that can be helpful in building profiles and initiating conversation. It's what disabled people want as well, but the nature of online dating makes it more about first impressions, and some people don't give those with disabilities a chance. Others have surely found strategies that work better than mine. On disabled-specific dating websites, a profile question on why users want to meet other disabled people might be helpful to sort out why people are using the website and the type of person they hope to meet. It could even be an anonymous one that doesn't show up on the profile, but helps in the algorithm many sites use that pairs people together. With the options available on existing dating websites, I feel exposed, vulnerable and inhibited. Some subtle changes on dating websites could create better opportunities for users to indicate if they would at least be willing to date people like me. I have Dypraxia , an autistic spectrum disorder similar to all-body Dyslexia. A few websites, such as UK Disability Match , do offer disabled people the chance to meet others like themselves. Often, disabled people are stereotyped, as if we were all the same. It hasn't limited my prospects in the way I initially feared it would. I started looking at some of the available profiles and I eventually found someone that sparked my interest, so I sent a message introducing myself and asking more about them. Alamy After nearly four years of being single, I decided that I wanted to meet someone romantically. This replicates the experience disabled people often have in the education system, where schools tend to group together children with disabilities, regardless of severity or type. I am still receiving just as many winks and likes as I did before, but I am a lot more secure in the knowledge that people are taking an interest in me in spite of my disability. But such sites can be abused by non-disabled people with a fetish for particular kinds of disability yes, this exists , such as amputations. A disability is not part of your personality. It's not something that would be visible in photos or any other part of a typical online dating profile unless I disclosed it. It would help disabled people relax in the knowledge that their potential date won't judge them solely on their disability. Dating sites should also consider introducing a question about mental health difficulties and whether you have had difficulties in the past. This may be practical for a school, but it's often unhelpful or limiting for disabled pupils themselves. It is hard to make such websites safe and comfortable for genuine users while keeping them open to non-disabled people who are looking to contact disabled people for different reasons. Starting any relationship is complicated, but it's all the more so for those of us with disabilities. I know I am not alone. For me, knowing that I have the understanding of any partner is liberating and lets me be myself. Instead of waiting for love to find me, as people often suggest, I decided to do what so many do these days:
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