MAKING LOVE ACCESSIBLE FOR ALL
PhD student and CPSN member Jerusha Mather, is demanding greater ease and access for people with disabilities looking for love. She is on a mission, to create a safe environment for everyone wanting to find love.
Jerusha Mather is on a mission to make love more accessible. In fact, over the past few years, the PhD student has been busy advocating for the rights of people with disabilities (PWD). Aside from studying her PhD in biomedical science, the 27-year-old has petitioned for improved accessibility to food packaging, published a book of short poems and was selected for the 2020 L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science (FWIS) Mentoring Program.
Jerusha is now setting her sights on the dating world and demanding greater ease and access for people with disabilities looking for love. We sat down with Jerusha to talk about her latest mission, to create a safe environment for everyone who wants to find love.
What are some of the barriers PWD experience with online dating?
I think there are a lot of false assumptions and views on people with disabilities out there. That needs to change. There's little support and inclusive initiatives that seek to try and reduce these barriers now.
Why are the misconceptions about PWD and dating?
People often assume that I should be "cared" for by my potential partner. PWD can also be caring and loving just like anyone else. We must be seen as great potential partners and partners in the media and elsewhere. You must see us as contributing equally to the relationship. There should be more support for parents with disabilities, too, like accessible baby clothing and baby stuff. There should be more resources and tools to help us navigate parenting challenges.
PWD should date a diverse range of people and not just people with disabilities. Society should be more open-minded and willing to accept people with disabilities.
How can online dating platforms make dating more accessible? What are your specific goals?
I’m calling on Tinder, Bumble and e-Harmony to help create a safe space for people with disabilities using their platforms. To include PWD in their advertisements and educate their users about inclusive behaviors when dating PWD.
Some of the things Jerusha is advocating for, is for the dating sites to;
Create regular video content and blog posts on disability inclusion and accessibility in dating. This could include stories and interviews with people with disabilities.
Provide personal support for people with disabilities who may need extra support in finding love. i.e., Mentoring and specialist coaching staff.
Provide free alternative matchmaking options to find appropriate matches and provide safe and protective measures.
Hold frequent seminars and workshops on dating and disability to reduce bias.
Increase accessibility features such as speed dating opportunities and zoom dating.
What's the response been like so far, from the online dating providers?
Bumble responded and said they'd pass on my ideas to their internal team for consideration, but I requested a meeting with them and haven't heard back since. If you are a disability advocate or anyone in general who has an interest in making dating platforms more inclusive, please email Bumble and other dating platforms and demand changes. It will be a collaborative effort to create these changes, and I hope you will find the courage and time to join me.
What are some of the challenges you've faced when dating?
Um, well, my experiences have been scarce, but I could not find quality matches. But I only tried one dating app and that when I was younger. I felt scared and anxious, and I felt my boundaries were entrenched, and if I said no to a match, they'd continue to show interest. But I didn't feel a connection there, and I should have probably blocked them from the start. But I've learned some things that I can do in the future to make it better.
How can people get involved in this initiative?
I started a petition to make dating platforms more inclusive. I think PWD deserve equal opportunities to find love, and currently, that is quite challenging due to the current biased community views. I want to change that, and I hope you can stand with me. I would appreciate it if you could sign and share this petition widely.