We get a visually impaired person to test a one-of-its-kind matchmaking Android app that brings disabled people together
A visually impaired user navigates through version 2.0 of an inclusive matchmaking app to tell you if it’s worth your time
"OH, THANK god you're here," says a relieved Ummehaani Bagasrawala, when we reach her home in Andheri. "Please take my photograph and upload it on the app. It won't allow me to log in otherwise. I've been struggling," says the visually impaired 24-year-old.
Ummehaani Bagasrawala requests the writer to take her photograph for the app; Bagasrawala trying the app. Pics/Datta Kumbhar
Bagasrawala runs Pearls Of Vision, a voluntary group that helps students with various disabilities connect with readers and writers for examinations.
The frustration in her voice is a far cry from the excitement we had heard when we requested her to download Inclov, currently available on Android. "I've never downloaded a dating app but let's give it a shot," Bagasrawala had chirped. Launched last year and boasting of 1,000 users, including roughly 350 from Mumbai, it's the world's first matchmaking app focused on individuals with physical, intellectual and learning disabilities and health disorders. Two months ago, co-founders Shankar Srinivasan and Kalyani Khona launched version 2.0 with features that increase the possibilities of finding the right match, along with additional safety measures.
"Uploading your photo should be an option or customised according to disability type. For someone who is visually challenged, it's difficult to do it unless you have assistance from a sighted person," Bagasrawala rues, as she punches in her name, gender, age and location, deciphering the keyboard using the talkback button on her smartphone. She is happy to learn that only her first name is displayed on her profile, a new safety feature.
Then, she is asked to feed in her disability type, which includes details like percentage of visual impairment and level of independence, along with information such as hobbies, educational qualification and work status. "Do they really need to know all this? Can't I just share it with the person I chat on the app?" she wonders, referring to the in-built chat option. Her fears are allayed when we read on the app that the information provided improves the matchmaking quotient.
Kalyani Khona and Shankar Srinivasan
What's your preference?
To find a match, a user needs to punch in the preferred gender, age group, location and disability type (Bagasrawala opts for the 'No Disability' option). Once done, she is privy to five profiles that suit her preferences. "Earlier, we would let users access our entire database but in this version, the profiles are filtered based on the information provided by the user. The app's algorithm curates five profiles that a user can view every day," says Srinivasan. When we reveal this to Bagasrawala, she smiles, "That's great. More choice would lead to addiction." So, would she be ready to find a match on this app? "I don't think so. But then, I am not looking to find someone, any way."
Currently scouting for investors, the team plans to launch an iOS version of Inclov, along with including different languages on the app and taking it overseas.
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