Idea: YellowBall - A Dating Site for People with Intellectual Difficulties
The idea is for a free networking and dating site specifically for people with intellectual disability/learning difficulties AND their carers. Originally I thought such a site should be for people with physical disabilities too, however since I had this idea I've noticed quite a few dating sites now exist for physically disabled people, especially those in wheelchairs, however the needs for those with learning difficulties is very different indeed. Although there are numerous dating sites (see: Online Dating Sites), none I've seem to cater for the needs of people who are intellectually less-abled. Such individuals often depend on a carer to watch out for their interests and thus this site will be unlike other dating and networking sites in that the carer will create their own profile coupled to the individual(s) they care for. Although dating will be a part of the site, disabled people and their carers can also set their profiles (in fact it will be the default) to "seeking friends" and thus can network with similar individuals or social groups in their neighbourhood.
Finding love is difficult. However, if like me, you've complained at times how hard it is to find someone special - image how difficult it is for people with handicaps. My older sister has learning difficulties - school was very hard for her - kids teased her relentlessly and in our small city there really wasn't anyone one else we knew with similar age and level-of-disability. For a while there was a social group she joined of younger people, and that was great, but now she's 28 and I know, chances are she'll never find love. She lives with my parents in a city of 100,000 (Cairns, Australia), so who knows... there may be someone right for her out there, but our chances of meeting a person with suitable and similar level of ability by pure chance/serendipity is astronomically low. It saddens me that Jen, and so many thousands like her will probably never experience love. I'd like to think that if a sensible, and sensitive site like this existed, it would mean disabled people have a much better chance at love, but also much better chances of finding friendship, social groups and just networking!
How it would work
Unlike regualre sites, this would start with a disclaimer that you must have a legitimage disability or the care of such an individual. Obviously the indivuial (and carer) must also be over 18 and concent. In the next stage the type and severity of disability would be described, however you could also enter :"prefer not to answer" or change the amount of information people can see publically to protect privacy. Note there are many issues of "concent' here, so this website must come with some very serious/sensitive disclaimers AND must encourage/insitss that both carer and indivudial complete profiles together as a team. Like a few dating sites have done already, a great idea would be to show the approximate address/suburb of people overlayed onto a Google map to help find people nearby. Indeed there are a few offenders why may try to victimise intellectually and/or physically handicapped people in their nearby area, hence it's important the carer is involved to employ commonsense. The questions asked of the diabled person must also be sensate, rather than ask for "severity of disability", a better phrase might be "level of independence" from low to high. The rest of the information could be simply typed eg: "My husband and I have a wonderful son with down-syndrome and hoping to find other parents with similar children to socialize with"'. Aside from the fact you'd have two profile pictures appear (one of the dependent, one of the carers), it would be similar to a normal dating site.
The name of such a site is a bit tricky! Although "disabled" is the most scientific world to use it seems cold: lesser-abled, differently-abled, special, disadvantaged or learning difficulties are much nicer. Words like "handicapped" or "mental retardation" are obviously hideous, so I believe probably the best name for this site might not include ANY of these words (unless in an acronym perhaps). For this reason I believe something like "yellow ball" might be a great name for such a site - then on the front page it could have a little slogan: "the only networking site for people with learning difficulties". Often the most successful site names are not even words at all though: and "zoosk" in an example of a very successful popular/dating site with a made-up word. While "yellow ball" is my current favourite, I'm sure there are hundreds of better names, and below I've listed a few others idea I've brainstormed.
- Yellow ball - current favourite, but maybe you prefer "square peg" and would love to hear other suggestions.
- SPINDEL - "Special People Interacting, Networking, Dating and Enjoying Life"
- Special dates - I'd like to think a bit clever, but yes the URL is taken! (MOST URLs nowadays are taken)
- Special life - as above
- Connecting dots - (as in the "connect the dots" drawing game children play)
- SamsNetwork - "Special Adults Meeting Socially Network"
I haven't search around too much on the web, so perhaps the site I've describe already exists, but if so I'm guessing it can't have been too successful or we would have heard about it! Really such a site would have to linked in someone to a social facebook (the same way Zoosk did) to REALLY make a huge impact. Such a site shouldn't and couldn't make any profit - even if it became popular enough to capture a large percentage of disabled people, Google Adwords wouldn't mean a lot of money would be made - instead such a site would be formed and championed on the premise that everyone deserves to experience love, and it would be nice is some of the services/opportunities the rest of us take for granted were also available to people like my sister. If you too have a sibling or child with a learning disability you'll know what I'm talking about, and I'd love to hear your feedback.
How can you help
If you support this idea, PLEASE join our facebook group and tell all your friends too! You can join this group by clicking here (and then "join group"):
- Facebook Group: . . . . "Dating and Social Networking for Intellectually Disabled - (Support Group)"
Better yet is if you know someone who has the resources and will to make this idea a reality!
- Online dating - an article I wrote about online dating.
- Online dating sites - lists a couple of free dating sites '(but not related to disabilities in any way - nor is the page above).
- Whispy Disabled Dating list - a good list but notice the word "learning" only occurs once.
- datedisabled - apparently quite a popular site and great in that you can search STRAIGHT away in any area. Noticed very few people with learning disabilities though... hence I believe a site SPECIFICALLY for learning difficulties would be much better, but I do like this simple layout.
- Dating4Disabled.com - looks like a very professional dating site (complete with forums too) for people with disabilities, although mostly seems to feature people with physical disabilities.