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Happily married disabled activist calls for dating apps to be more accessible

Virali Modi with Kshitij Nayak

A disability rights activist from India has said she wishes society was more open to having relationships with disabled people.

Virali Modi told News18: “I wish people were more open-minded, sensitive and more accepting when it comes to falling in love with someone who has a disability.”

Her life changed when she was 15 after contracting an illness which left Modi paralysed from the waist down.

It was a difficult time, close friends started fading away and there was always the odd reminder that she had her physical limitations.

But it wasn’t all doom and gloom, Modi could still cook, travel and most importantly of all, she found love.

She met Kshitij Nayak on a dating app, they connected so well the two tied the knot last October.

Four months into her marriage Modi says: “It still feels like we’re in the dating phase. Not much has changed except that we now live together with the added responsibility of taking care of each other.”

She was a little hesitant to meet her husband’s relatives - would they accept a disabled person in the family?

But there was no need for concern, as soon as she met Nayak’s mother she was welcomed by open arms.

In an interview with CNN-News18 Modi said: “She never made me feel as if I was any different from them. She was open to learning about my disability and what my limitations are and welcomed me with open arms.”

Giving advice to disabled singletons, she said: “That perception is not wrong. The reason you think that is because your mind is so limited and closed. Open your mind and you’ll understand that, at the end of the day, we all want the same things. We want love, happiness, peace, and money.”

She knows how difficult it can be for disabled people to find love, but before meeting Mr right Modi had an active dating life.

“I went out on several dates and, surprisingly, most people weren’t taken aback by my disability. It was refreshing as I’ve been fortunate enough to have met some amazing men and gone out on some great dates – be it wine tasting or candlelit dinners or playing Jenga while sipping on beers,” Modi added.

She is now campaigning for dating apps to be more accessible.  “By integrating accessibility features such as colour themes for those who are colour blind, talkback integration for those with visual impairment, and font size options for people with retina disorders, dating platforms can become more inclusive spaces for persons with disabilities,” Modi explained.

As for spending Valentine’s Day today, does she have any plans?

 “Kshitij and I have a deal; I don’t care if we don’t do anything for Valentine’s Day but I’m a flowers kind of girl, so I expect flowers. Thankfully, he got me flowers last Valentine’s Day and he better get me flowers this time too!”

[ The Valentine’s Day tradition of giving a box of candy was started in the 19th century by Richard Cadbury, a scion of a British chocolate manufacturing family. ]

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