Safety is a significant concern in online dating. What safety measures and policies have you implemented to protect users, particularly those who may be more vulnerable due to their disabilities?
Safety is our top priority and we believe that educating our users is the best way to keep them safe. Upon onboarding, users must go through a safety tutorial with a variety of safety tips. This tutorial is accessible on the app at all times. We also provide a reference to outside resources, like RAINN.
Each profile also has report/block buttons. Reported and blocked users are reviewed by us multiple times a day and appropriate action is taken immediately. We have zero tolerance for spam accounts or people with predatory intentions.
Lastly, our profile verification process helps reduce catfishing.
Could you share some success stories or positive experiences from users of your app? How has your platform impacted their lives?
Within the first two months of launching, we had our first Dateability couple! Dateability has given people the confidence to date and we have received lots of feedback that is filled with hope.
As our user base grows, we are confident we will attend our first Dateability wedding soon!
Dateability has shown the community that we deserve love and that there are people out there who experience and view life through a similar lens. Through launching Dateability, it is clear that people have searched for an app like this for many years. Isolation is prevalent about the community, despite being the largest minority, and we are honored to provide a platform that encourages inclusion and community.
Personally, I have met so many incredible people through this venture. These relationships have changed my life. Prior to this, I rarely had the opportunity to connect to fellow disabled people, and my experiences this past year have been profound. I feel liberated and understood.
Having a platform where users have this unspoken understanding is invaluable. On Dateability, you don’t have to weed through the ableism like you have to do on mainstream apps. The fear and anxiety associated with disclosure is reduced and there can be more focus placed on the other facts of a person that make them who they are. Our users have said they are relieved to use Dateability because there has been so much trauma in their past dating experiences.
Are there any new upcoming features that users can look forward to?
Eventually, we plan to add an official friendship feature. For now, users looking for platonic relationships can show what kind of relationship they’re looking for, which appears on their profile. Friendship is included in that list.
We also are looking forward to expanding outside North America, which we hope to do some time in 2024.
How do you balance the need for customization and personalization in user profiles with the goal of creating an inclusive and supportive dating community?
Each profile has a bio section that people can use to share whatever information they want. The bio section, as well as the photo section, give our users the opportunity to express themselves and showcase their unique personality traits. Each profile also has basic descriptors, such as education, religion, and political affiliation, but users can choose to hide these if they prefer to keep that information private. We want our users to feel comfortable on our platform and allowing them to choose what information to share is important.
How do you envision the future of online dating for people with disabilities, and what role does your app play in shaping that future?
We would like to see more inclusion in the dating space. Unfortunately, the other apps have had plenty of chances to show that they care about the disabled experience, and they have failed to do so. We have a responsibility to create an inclusive platform and we are committed to doing that. We see Dateability becoming the go-to dating app for the community, which will vastly reduce the discriminatory experiences disabled people face when finding love.
What message or words of encouragement would you like to share with your users and the broader community of people with disabilities?
You are worthy of love. There are so many negative connotations about disability and it too often affects our self esteem and identity. Unfortunately, it can take some time to unlearn these feelings and practices, but surrounding yourself with people who can empathize with you and appreciate the value you bring to this world is crucial.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs or developers looking to create inclusive and accessible tech solutions for marginalized communities?
It is hard to be an entrepreneur, but it is SO rewarding. Not only has this been a big change for us, but we see how we are changing the lives of our users. When things get tough, we think about all of the positive feedback we have received. It is also important to remember that it is ok to make mistakes, as long as you are working to improve.
I love representing disabled entrepreneurship. I want people to know that it can be possible to balance disability/chronic illness and business. There is a lack of representation in the startup world and disabled people rarely have a seat at the table. It is important that the narrative that disabled people are lazy or incapable of productivity and success is eliminated, because it couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Anything else you’ll like to add?
Some disabled people say they would never want to date someone else who is chronically ill or disabled because they don’t want to have to watch someone live with an illness or chronic pain, because they think life will be too depressing, or they question how anything would get done around the house. While those are valid concerns, I ultimately think they are rooted in internalized ableism. Disabilities and chronic illnesses are so diverse–even the same diagnosis can manifest differently in different people! It’s hurtful to hear that someone would never want to date a disabled person, and it is especially hurtful when it comes from another disabled person. I implore everyone with this mindset to think about the root of this sentiment and challenge it–break free from this limited perspective and open yourself up to love!
Dateability is free and available to use on iOS, Android, and web application. dateabilityapp.com.