Dating apps encouraged to become more…

There is growing support for a petition calling on dating platforms to be more inclusive and support people with disabilities.

Jerusha Mather from Melbourne, scientist, PhD student, poet and disability advocate, started the petition Bumble, Tinder, e-Harmony: Make your platforms more disability-inclusive recently in a bid to bring about positive change in the sector meetings.

Nearly 3,000 people have signed the petition and Bumble Australia has responded, saying Ms Mather’s ideas for inclusivity have been passed on to its internal team for consideration.

Ms Mather says she asked to continue working with Bumble to try to encourage inclusive practices and initiatives.

Living with cerebral palsy, Ms Mather says her journey to find love took some unusual turns.

“I’ve had a lot of tough times with people misunderstanding and judging me at face value because I move and talk differently,” she says.

“People with disabilities are often discriminated against by other users on dating platforms, and are not considered as potential partners.

“But people with disabilities have the potential to be great partners. We bring love, care, and passion to our relationships just like anyone else. We want to be lovers, parents and have fulfilling relationships.

Education is key, says Mather, to changing the experiences of people with disabilities and enabling inclusive encounters.

She wants online dating platforms to include people with disabilities in their ads and educate platform users about inclusive behavior around dating.

Education could include holding frequent seminars or workshops on dating and disability with the goal of reducing bias and creating regular video content and blog posts on disability inclusion and accessibility in dating – including stories or interviews with people with disabilities.

The other side, Ms Mather says, is to provide personal support to people with disabilities using dating apps, who can benefit from supports such as mentoring and specialist coaching staff, and to increase accessibility features such as speed dating opportunities and zoom dating.

Ms Mather adds: “If you are someone who uses dating apps or websites, there is a lot you can do to include disabled people looking for a partner.

“Don’t infantilize us or look at us sadly, we don’t need your sympathy. Treat us as you would any other person, with respect and dignity.

“Show up on the date, with the intention of getting to know us.

“Do not use negative words such as suffering, problem, vulnerability and weakness to describe disability, a person’s disability should not be the focus or emphasis.”

With the inclusivity of dating rarely discussed in mainstream media, Ms. Mather wants to see more people like her represented in this space and has a message for others with similar experiences.

” Do not be afraid. Put yourself out there,” she said.

“There are wonderful people in the world and there is someone out there for you. You are worthy of being loved and accepted.

“Never give up. Keep trying and one day the good one will come to compliment you.

If you want to know more about Ms Mather’s petition, you can find it here.

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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