It's been a few years since I started to go through the process of appointments and referrals after developing more symptoms that were impacting my daily life. Fast forward to now and I've been diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome and Fibromyalgia as well on some ongoing investigations for Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome and migraines. Having a disability is something that you have to take into account when it comes to doing any activities as there are often considerations you need to make to ensure you can have a safe, enjoyable, and accessible time. There are many things to take into account when looking at accessibility which will vary for different people, but there are a few that I have experienced when going out, sometimes this involves me using a wheelchair or crutches. Travelling and accessing a location gives a few things to consider such as; whether parking is close, the condition of paved areas (particularly for those using a mobility device), if there are ramps for any stepped entrances as well as handrails and lifts being available. Having disabled toilets that are easily accessible are very important as this is often the only type of toilet that can be used by people with disabilities for a variety of reasons. 

My partner pushing me in a wheelchair through the park

The seating arrangements inside venues are also important to ensure they will be comfortable and have enough space to get wheelchairs and other mobility aids through between the tables - this is something I have had issues with previously at a few places. Ensuring places are well lit can often be important, as well as checking if there is any lighting that could cause issues - one I have issues with is strobe lighting as this can trigger migraines for me. How loud somewhere is can affect those that are deaf or hard of hearing or have sensory processing issues so making sure it's either not too loud or has quiet areas will be important. Accessible reading materials such as menus will be needed for those who need larger print, different coloured paper, or braille versions so venues providing these is important to ensure people who are blind, partially sighted or have disorders such as dyslexia are able to still read them. Single Disabled is a disabled dating site that has put together a video on their YouTube channel called 'Date Night Ideas For Blind People' to help you find something suitable. Their channel is going to focus on a range of disabilities in detail with the content to be uploaded, to help people with different disabilities find a dating option that works for them.

When it comes to dating when either you, your date or both of you are disabled or have a chronic illness, there are a whole host of things that you can do that could still be accessible and mean that you can have a great time. Due to the ongoing current situation we all find ourselves in, many of us have been making use of video calling to keep in touch with our friends and family. This is also a great option to use now and in the future, for a date, as you can do this from the comfort of your own home by using your tech to suit your accessibility needs. It can also be used as a good backup for those days when you have planned to meet up in person but your conditions have flared up which means that's not possible anymore. For when the world has returned to normality and it's safe to be out and about doing things again there are a number of things I can think of that could suit a good date idea. Going to the zoo or an aquarium has plenty of things to see and do that will give you and your date plenty to talk about. They are often well-paved/floored and have plenty of guides as well as having websites that will normally have information about accessibility so you can easily check before you go. Museums and art galleries can often be more accessible with larger spaces to get around and normally have some type of guide which can include 'talking guides' that you can carry around with you or larger print/braille guides with the information in. Going to a pub quiz can be a fun and interesting option as it gives you something to talk about during your date and can be a nice informal way to get to know someone.

A picture of me standing while using my walking stick

If you fancied doing something a little more intimate or quiet, going for a walk in a park, if possible for you and your date, can be relaxing and be a great way to chat without facing them all of the time or eating in front of each other. If you didn't mind having some food together but aren't ready for a more formal meal, you could also couple a walk in the park with having a picnic as a cute and relaxing way to meet up and enjoy each others company. Another food-related idea would be to make a meal together if you both enjoy cooking as you can work together on something and means you don't have the nervousness of meeting in the middle of a restaurant with lots of other people around. You could also watch a film or TV show together or play video or board games depending on what you are both into. Going to watch the sunset and stargazing could be something romantic you went to do either as an activity on its own or one that you do to finish off a date. It would be relaxing and allow you to chat about things without anything else interfering. Sharing an interest in reading can be something to bond over and doing a book club between the two of you should give you plenty to chat about while discussing a book you are both reading. This has different options for talking about the book as it could be done virtually on a video call/phonecall, at a cafe or similar, or meeting at each other's place.

Other options that can be date opportunities include bowling, art classes, or bird watching depending on what type of activity you are able to do and have an interest in. When you have a disability or chronic illness, dating can become a little more complicated and can often mean that you can't travel as far to meet people for a date. There is a big range of disabilities that affect people in different ways so finding a date that is more tailored to your circumstances is important. Single Disabled is an online dating service designed to help those with a disability find a date local to them, and they have different options such as deaf dating and amputee dating on their website to help those looking for something more specific to find someone that matches what they would like. 

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