By Shreya Maskara
Shankar Srinivasan recalls attending the wedding of a couple afflicted with polio in May. The couple were the first to be matched on his platform, Inclov.
“They were really struggling with finding a life partner,” he said. “It had been around 6-7 years since they started looking for love but didn’t have any success till they met each other on Inclov.”
Since the platform was launched in 2016, it has helped make over 10,000 matches
Started by Srinivasan and Kalyani Khona, Incolv is the world’s first matchmaking platform for the differently abled to help find love and make friends.
Talking about the inception of the platform, Srinivasan says he and Khona wanted to help solve a problem in the country by addressing the needs of an overlooked community. Members of the differently abled community account for a big part of the world’s population, with over 100 million in India and 1.3 billion globally.
“Since neither Kalyani nor I have a disability it took us a lot of time to deep dive into the community and learn about it, their problems, needs, and wants,” Srinivasan said. “At Inclov, we don’t focus on the traditional aspects on matchmaking such a height and salary, but in fact, matches are done on the basis of disability type and preference, medical ability and other factors.”
Srinivasan added that matches are made keeping in mind what disability type users prefer and their location. Additionally, Inclov also allows users to connect and chat on the platform without exchanging personal numbers. Incolv started out with around 100 users and has now expanded to over 30,000 members all around the nation. The Incolv app is available on Android and iOS.
One of the key missions of starting Inclov was to help differently-abled people meet and interact in a space free of judgement and discrimination. This, Srinivasan says, gave birth to the idea of ‘Social Spaces’, Inclov’s community meetups held around the country. The meetups are held in different locations like at the beach, cafes, parks and nightclubs, and have inclusive accessibility through ramps, sign language interpreters and much more. Social Spaces aims to make Inclov more than a matchmaking platform, Srinivasan says; it helps provide differently-abled people with a chance to come out and meet others.
The last Social Spaces event, a blindfolded food tasting session by celebrity chef Sadaf Hussain, was held was held at the Pride Plaza Hotel in Delhi in conjunction with Microsoft. Manish Raj, who attended the event and has polio, said Inclov has had a very positive impact on his life, “From being able to access places within my city such as hotels, pubs, restaurants to meeting amazing people, I have had a wonderful journey with them so far.” He added, “I have been differently abled all my life and have constantly struggled with being alone even in a crowd, but this community really changes that.”
Businessman Ankur Dhir, who has muscular dystrophy, said he thinks Social Spaces really helps differently abled people come out of their shells, and Inclov is considerate to their needs. “It’s great to see how Inclov encourages people with disabilities to break out from social norms and really enjoy themselves,” he added.
Srinivasan says he hopes to keep improving the inclusiveness offered by Inclov, including making the online platform fully accessible to people with all kinds of disabilities. “We want Inclov to become a truly inclusive platform which enables people with disabilities to feel and become more independent by providing them with a social space to do so.” Srinivasan says he hopes to take Inclov to other parts of the world as well, to bring together the global differently abled community.
Shreya Maskara is a senior copy editor at Qrius.
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