Finding love on dating sites is not always easy for people with disabilities. Tired of derogatory comments about her chronic illness, Jacqueline Child created an “inclusive” dating application for people with disabilities with her sister Alexa. “Dateability”, launched in 2022, has the mission of “making love accessible to all”, far from “ableism” – which takes the form of oppression or even discrimination – explain the two young Americans.
When Jacqueline needed a feeding tube in 2021, Alexa worried about her sister's love life which was accumulating bad experiences. After her hip operation, a man notably took the liberty of advising her “not to have children” because it would be “selfish” to “pass on her genes” to them, she confided to USA Today.
Thus, Dateability wants to create a “safe” space for people with physical, intellectual and psychiatric disabilities. To do this, users can refine the search for their soul mate by checking filters such as: “wheelchair user”, “mental illness” or “service animal”. These descriptions are kept relatively vague so that users do not feel obligated to reveal their disability. The application will also include the possibility of reporting abuse.
The two founders would like to point out that people who do not have a disability can also use the application. “We really want the majority of users to be disabled or chronically ill, but we understand that there are able-bodied people, non-disabled people who are completely comfortable with a disabled person,” Jacqueline said to the American media.
Creating an application for the disabled also involves adapting the interface and functionalities. So, to select profiles, the application includes the classic options of “scanning” or “swiping” from left to right. But if the gesture is physically complicated for the user to perform, they can click on buttons provided for this purpose.
The sisters estimate that the number of potential users of their app could reach around 5 million in the United States alone, based on the 60 million people with disabilities living in the country. They hope to soon launch the application in Australia and Europe and expand it to friendships, reports Forbes magazine.
These applications which advocate the inclusion of a community or a minority, like Dateability, have multiplied in recent years. Twenty-five years after the launch of the first dating site in France, there are more than 2000, and for all tastes. The most famous, Tinder - downloaded more than 45 million times worldwide in 2021 - is very popular with young people, while those over fifty turn to Disons Demain.
Sites and applications also want to appeal to all sexual preferences. For example, Gleeden was designed for extramarital encounters, Gindr for the LGBT community and OkCupid for “sapiosexuals” – who are attracted to someone based on their intelligence.
There are also as many sites and applications as there are political or environmental beliefs. It is thus possible for users to discuss the carbon footprint on Amours Bio or to be assured of meeting someone “who also respects animals and the same vision of the world” on Veganland.