Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Different Type of Social Networking

The art of relationships although practiced for centuries, still seems to be a mystery for most of us. Social networking sites have completely changed the playing field in terms of creating relationships. Although there is a stigma against online dating services for some of us, I feel there are many benefits to having such sites, especially those that are tailored for individuals with disabilities

One of the best disabled internet dating sites I came across was which provides a whole slew of resources like: uploading personal photos, personal videos, and audio, virtual flirt, search on disability type, the ability to block annoying members, create hot-lists and favorites and there is also webcam and chat accessibility.

The site was first established in 2002 and since then have grown quite significantly. Today it has over 16,000 members who have various physical and mental disabilities. One of the cooler features of the site is that while chatting, members can even take part in an online casino! I thought it was fascinating that the sites main purpose was to be a dating and social networking site for 1000’s of differently abled people. The fact that they called disabled individuals “abled” is wonderful and seems to be a more suitable name. Often the word “disabled” comes with stereotypes and prejudices and can have many negative connotations. By labeling these individuals as “abled” we aren’t focusing on what they cannot do but their strengths and abilities.

I thought it was interesting how the site has attracted members from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and all over Europe. The registered members include: amputee singles, deal singles, multiple sclerosis singles, cerebral palsy singles, paraplegic and quadriplegic singles, blind and visually impaired singles, spina bifida singles, wheelchair singles, gay disabled men, lesbian disabled women. This made me wonder how the site differs from regular dating sites. Besides the fact that it is for disabled individuals, does it also provide special access to those who are visually or hearing impaired?

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