My name is Jerusha. I am a PhD student at Victoria University. I am also a passionate disability advocate.
I am on a mission to make dating more accessible and inclusive.
My journey to find love has taken unusual turns. I have had many challenging moments with people misunderstanding and judging me upon face value. I move differently and speak differently sometimes because of my CP. This does not mean that I do not have feelings just as any other person would. I am quite similar in that respect and should be given a equal chance at finding love.
As any other person, people with disabilities come with both strengths and weaknesses. Besides if you genuinely love someone, you would be willing to give it a chance despite their differences. If you see someone like myself out there that you genuinely like and feel like you want to learn more about them, do not feel shy to make the move. Get to know them. Let us normalise this, and be inclusive. Do not do it to make yourself look good. There should be a mutual exchange of love and respect. A nice, easy balance.
A lot of us (disabled people) find other ways to get things done (perhaps a little differently). But we are still very capable of doing things independently. Many of us have so much to bring to the table and can make excellent mums and dads. Many of us have feelings and emotions that shouldn’t be justified or compromised due to ignorance and bias. Many of us have the potential to become great partners. We should not be seen as a burden but rather as a effective contributor to the relationship.
How do I be more inclusive when dating? I hear you asking. Do not ask offensive questions or say something that is belittling. Do not infantilise us and look upon us with sadness. We do not need your sympathy. Rather treat us as you would treat any other person. With respect and dignity. Turn up to the date, with intent to get to know us. Effective communication and transparency is a essential part of the dating process. The disability should not be a central focus though or be made a big deal. It is just another part of human diversity. More than 4 million Australians have disability, or around 18% of the population. It is time for society to be inclusive and accepting.
I would like to see more education and awareness raising for people with disabilities in dating applications and media. Growing awareness and educating people on what it truly means to be disabled is vital for reducing the bias and discrimination. I think it would help change people’s attitudes and make them more accepting and inclusive. They should be more voice on this matter.
I hope you can join forces with me to enable a safe and sound experience for all who would like the opportunity to find true love. Together we can change the world of dating and make it more accessible and inclusive for everyone.
You can also write to dating agencies such as e- Harmony and Bumble asking for more disability awareness raising opportunities to be created.
If you are from a dating agency, I would love to talk more about how your company can improve in terms of accessibility and inclusion. Please email me on: [email protected]