Finding Love Online With a Disability
Let’s get loved up, after all, it is cuffing season
I’m a firm believer that any good person can find love, and that includes people with disabilities. I should know, I found my true love at 22 with the help of a dating site called OkCupid. My name is Miranda and I was born with Cerebral Palsy; I have to use a wheelchair to get around.
With the right attitude and precautions, the Internet can be a powerful tool for helping people with disabilities find love. I’m not saying everyone with a disability should use the online method, I’m sure plenty of disabled people have found a partner without it. However, if you’ve exhausted all avenues in the real world, online dating apps and websites are a lucrative option.
Throughout my dating life, I have found partners both online and offline. The majority of them were online. Why? I just find it easier that way. If someone viewed my dating profiles, they saw up front that I am disabled and can decide for themselves if they want to proceed.
I have had people in real life find me attractive, but they couldn’t deal with a disability, and that’s valid. I’ve also had people claiming they “missed out” on me because they didn’t know how to proceed with the Cerebral Palsy. And, to them, I say, “I’m sorry. I’m sure you’ll find your match.”
Online dating profiles take out all the guesswork. If you want to give me a shot, send a message; if you don’t, move on to the next profile. My partner took a chance on me in June of 2012.
The first thing that caught my attention about his message to me was that it wasn’t creepy. Disability or not, all women have dealt with their fair share of creepers online. I’ve gotten gems like “you’d look good in a bikini,” or my favorite, “I’ve always wanted to make it with a girl in a wheelchair.” That one made me shutter.
His simply said, “Hi, I think you’re really cute, and I would love to get to know you better.” Short, sweet, and to the point. My man is sometimes a man of little words.
I clicked on his profile, and it was pretty bare. It only said, “I hate writing these things. Message me if you want to know more.” I was a little turned off by that. As a writer, I’m a sucker for a good communicator, and my own profile was novel-length by profile standards. However, his message seemed so genuine that I couldn’t ignore it.
We ended up swapping phone numbers and starting to communicate by texts and calls. After a month of this, we set a date to meet in person. Did sparks immediately fly? Haha. No way.
The thing about me is that I get nervous around people I find attractive. And, I found him very attractive. The man didn’t even bat an eye when I asked him if I could bring a friend to the first meeting. I think all women should do this, especially those with disabilities. It’s a safety net. He even brought a couple of friends along so I wouldn’t have to feel awkward about needing someone. What a guy!
This may not feel like a big deal to some, but I had a guy go off on me once for not wanting to go alone to a bar with him. We had only met once prior! My alarms went off, and I certainly dodged a bullet after he tore me a new one for it.
Unfortunately, the first meeting didn’t go well because I clammed up. But, here’s the thing, if someone is really into you, they will make it known. He didn’t give up after that. He suggested we meet up in a more intimate setting to really get to talk. With my grandmother present, I invited him over to my apartment, and the sparks flew!
He was very kind and polite when my Gram would pop out of her room to talk to us. We bonded over Disney movies and musicals and had a great time! Ten years later, I’m living with him, and he is an amazingly loving and kind partner that helps me when I need him. I couldn’t ask for anyone better!
What I want others with disabilities to take away from this are a few things. Try online dating if you haven’t found what you’re looking for in the real world. It might work out for you, or it might not. What matters is that you gave it a try.
If you try the online route, don’t automatically dismiss a lacklustre profile. If I had done that, I would have never gotten all of these happy years. Give them a chance if they send you a genuine message that shows you they are into YOU and not what they can DO with you.
Finally, the sparks don’t always hit on the first meeting. After my experience with my partner, I usually advise people to give it a couple of dates before they decide to move further. Some people are overwhelmed during the first meeting and may do better the second time. I’m sure glad he stuck with me!
Please remember that your disability doesn’t define you. You are worthy and capable of receiving and giving love. It just may take a while to find it. We’re all in the same boat in that respect.
Listen to Dis’: Disability-Led Arts Organisation
Listen to Dis’ are the inclusivity-focused, disability-led arts organisation championing disability culture through art and performance
Listen to Dis’ is a registered non-profit community arts organisation that champions disability culture through the medium of inclusive art and performance. Their work manifests in many forms including workshops, artist series and theatrical touring, and everything has an underlying message to support and empower the global disabled community.
Here we highlight how Listen to Dis’ is bringing this message to life:
Listen to Dis’ VOICE
Listen to Dis’ VOICE is a weekly open-access program where artists join forces to learn, create, explore, and connect. The focus topic changes each week yet is always in keeping with the Listen to Dis’ core message of advocating for the disabled community. Through this profound program, Listen to Dis’ has created some truly important work surrounding ableist ways disabled bodies and minds are viewed.
The Other Ordinary
The Other Ordinary is Listen to Dis’ touring crip theatre company. Launched out of a class at the University of Regina named Devising Inclusive Theatre, and directed by Listen to Dis’ founder and artistic director Traci Foster. Dubbed TOO, it fosters the talents of emerging professional artists that produce tour shows with a focus on how it feels to live and work as disabled people.
Take their first show, ‘Neither Heroes nor Ordinary People,’ as a prime example, which uncovers the realities of living with disabilities through music, monologue, dance, beatbox, and singing. Their second show, Mine to Have, is about sexuality, sensuality, disability, and
the political right to live in one’s body.
Visiting Artist Series
LTD’s visiting artist series connects disabled artists with the wider arts ecology by inviting artists, both disabled and not, to host workshops that explore disability art. Inviting artists from outside the LTD’s group enables LTD’s network to expand but also ignites deeper learning on both parts of the essence of disability culture and mindset.
LTD’s is amplifying the voices of the disabled community through a variety of mediums that all celebrate art, performance and culture. Follow their journey on their Instagram here.
Through facilitated dialogue and inclusive art practice and performance, we weave new realities for our members and for the broader community – shifting the way people perceive disability and creating an understanding of and appreciation for crip art, mad art, and disability culture.
The Sensational Museum
‘Using what we know about disability to change how museums work for everyone’ is the tagline for The Sensational Museum
Led by Professor Hannah Thompson from Royal Holloway, University of London, The Sensational Museum is a £1 million pound-funded project by the Arts and Humanities Research Council whose goal is to alter current access methods and introduce a deeper sense of inclusivity within the museum sector in the UK.
Thompson is joined by a plethora of professionals on this project who unite on the idea that disability needs need to be put at the centre of all museums’ strategies going forward. There is Social Design specialist Anne Chick from the University of Lincoln; Psychologist Alison Eardley from the University of Westminster; and Museum Studies expert Ross Parry from the University of Leicester. They will work together between April 2023 and July 2025 to really transform the way disabled and non-disabled people interact with the art and each other in museums in the future.
Collaborating with museum staff as well as disabled and non-disabled visitors, the more-than-equipped team will be looking into two core areas: new ways of accessing museum collections and cataloguing objects in a more inclusive way. The key idea is to acknowledge and put into practice the fact that the needs of diverse visitors are all unique and not everyone absorbs art in the same way. Sector organisations include VocalEyes, an initiative that works towards inclusion for the visually impaired and blind in the arts and heritage sector, Curating for Change which helps create career paths for the disabled community, and the Museums Association, a membership organisation that campaigns for socially engaged museums. They will all be on hand to offer acute advice and inspiration as to how this project can create innovative change within museums across the country.
“Many people want or need to access and process information in ways that are not only – or not entirely – visual. But museums are very sight-dependent places. Let’s imagine a museum experience that plays to whichever senses work best for you. The project aims to give all visitors inclusive, engaging, enjoyable and memorable experiences,” Professor Hannah Thompson.
Visit The Sensational Museum website to stay up-to-date with this project and how it’s developing. It has the capacity to create real social justice and impact the disabled community and how they will be able to engage with art in a more inclusive way in the future.
Adaptive Kidswear: Get to Know What’s Available Online
Marks and Spencer, Tubie Kids and Seenin are just a few brands investing in adaptive kidswear
Both big brands like M&S and Etsy as well as more emerging companies like Seenin and Tubie Kids are innovating within the adaptive kidswear market. Whether clothes, accessories or shoes, companies are re-designing everyday items to suit multiple disability needs. Blending fashion with function, here we highlight how each company is approaching this movement.
Special Kids Company
The Special Kids Company was founded by Sasha Radwan, who spent time in the Middle East, only to see first-hand how children with special needs were hidden from society’s view there. This inspired her to launch her company, which stocks multiple brands of adaptive wear for kids. Featured on her online store are Scratch Sleeves dungarees, specially designed adaptive clothing for children with autism, eczema and post-surgical healing. And there are wheelchair accessories by brands including Bundle Bean and My Buggy Buddy. Think organisers, cup holders and those all-important rain covers.
Founded by Lucy Carr-Seaman, whose daughter, Hester, was born with a rare agenesis of the corpus callosum named Aicardi syndrome, Seenin is the answer to Lucy’s struggle to find exactly what she needed to make Hester and her life more comfortable. Seenin stocks everything from aprons and bibs to seamless socks and weighted blankets. There’s also a sweet kerchief range that can be designed by the shopper. The style fabric, colour and print can is all bespoke.
Tubie Kids focuses on adaptive clothing and accessories for tube-fed children. This innovative company provides beautifully designed, colourful, tube-friendly yet functional clothing that gives children the full dignity and sensory comfort they need and deserve. Their Tubie Kids® 2in1 Combo Tops are especially brilliant, as they are an everyday staple that has flat seams, no label tags, and a discreet opening for abdominal access.
Marks & Spencer
Retail giant M&S also offers what they’ve called a ‘Kids Easy Dressing,’ range. This collection includes hip dysplasia clothes, feeding tube clothing and zip-up bodysuits. They have rethought where poppers need to be placed as well as introduced super-soft materials to stimulate comfort. Sizes start from newborn and go up to 16 years. From pretty patterns to bold colours, as well as useful multi-packs, there is a lot to admire here.
ASDA’s ‘Easy On Easy Wear’ clothing is designed to support kids in working towards independent dressing via items like pull-on school trousers and ‘Easy On’ 2-in-1 school pinafores where the shirt is attached to the skirt. They have also done their research on sensory-kind fabrics and offer a range of items from sweatshirts to polo shirts that help comfort kids throughout their day.
E-commerce company Etsy hosts an abundance of independent brands and designers that have created adaptive clothing and accessories from first-hand experience. From tube feeding vests for 1-14-year-old boys and girls to adaptive trousers with side zippers and pyjamas with a back zipper, there is a lot on offer that will hopefully make the lives of parents and children living with disability or illness a touch more comfortable.