It is now eight years ago that Disability Match started as a dating community for disabled singles in the UK.
Of course, online dating was not new and there were already a couple of niche disabled dating sites, but these were mainly global sites with a huge bias towards the American disability community. What the UK needed was a disabled dating site that would be part of the local community and provide a secure and friendly environment where UK singles who had some form of disability – visible or hidden – could reach out and contact potential friends and lovers living within a reasonable distance.
During the last decade a lot has happened in the UK for disabled daters. Channel 4 have brought the whole topic into the mainstream with its Undateables programme – a television show that Disability Match has been actively involved with – the show brushed aside many of the taboos associated with disability, such as Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy and brought a growing sense of social confidence to the disabled dater. From the outset, Disability Match has used the slogan: ‘Look beyond the disability’ which The Undateables and global events such as the Paralympics have brilliantly reinforced.
When the site launched it was obvious that disabled people were often avid internet users and that social media would play a huge role in developing the community. We have an active Facebook page where we post news and original content on a daily basis and a busy Twitter feed with many active followers. We also have an app available on both iTunes and Google Play to browse new members as they register. Additionally, we record regular podcasts where we talk to some amazing guests about disabled living. Our Facebook page also acts as a handy support portal for a whole range of issues concerning dating and membership queries. The messenger system is available for members and also for the wider UK disabled community who need advice on relationship topics.
The vast amount of feedback and experience I’ve gained in almost a decade of helping the disabled community has also been very useful in providing material for my annual dating seminars at the Naidex event in Birmingham.
David Miller is webmaster at www.disabilitymatch.co.uk
Recommended by Disability Horizons, Disability Today, featured in The Guardian and Daily Mail and at Naidex.