A social media site created by a Tasmanian man and designed for people with disabilities is being praised by users as a useful place to make friends and to look for advice about services.
Dale Reardon, who is vision-impaired, created My Disability Matters after feeling frustrated by the layout of some of the more popular social sites.
He said his hope was that the website would provide a forum for people with disabilities to support each other and make friends.
At present the user base is small, with less than 400 people part of the online community. But the group is diverse and people from around the world have joined up.
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In Brisbane Karletta Abianac, who has autism, anxiety and depression, has been using the social network to make friends.
“It’s just nice to know that other people have the same stories, that I’m not the only one sometimes ashamed that I was not working, or frustrated with the symptoms that we experience.”
Anita Aldridge, who lives in northern Tasmania and has a brain injury from a workplace accident, said she was looking for advice about services.
“I don’t get access to service providers very well and if I don’t know what is available it’s not easy to find those things out,” she said.
“So having access to a social media site is a really great way of finding out what’s available.”
Mr Reardon said some of the common discussion topics were tips on finding places to visit that catered well for people with disabilities.
“I mean it can be something as simple as asking advice on where’s a good hotel or restaurant to go to during your holiday,” he said.
“For example, lots of hotels put on their website that they provide disability access, but that doesn’t actually mean very much — people have different size wheelchairs for example.”
Tolerance policy set up to fight online trolls
Mr Reardon said they had instituted a respect and tolerance policy to combat the issue of people “trolling and abusing disabled people on social media”.
He said much of the trolling and bullying that occurred happened when people with disabilities posted photographs of themselves on social media sites.
“So if their disability makes them look a little different they can get fun made of, picked on because of their appearance,” he said.
And Mr Reardon said his website was not limited to people with disabilities, saying their families and carers were also welcome.
Topics: community-and-society, disabilities, health, autism-spectrum-disorder, anxiety, social-media, internet-culture,information-and-communication, tas, australia
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