Photo credit Airbnb
In November, Airbnb, the highly popular home rental platform, updated its website with a new “adapted” section that includes 1,000+ homes around the world with accessible features for users with mobility challenges.
As reported by Disability Scoop, “These wheelchair accessible homes with wheelchair accessible features have been reviewed to ensure they have step-free paths into and through the home and to one or more bedrooms and bathrooms and also at least one accessible feature in the bedroom or bathroom.”
To accomplish the website improvements, Airbnb partnered with a space data company called Matterport to create 3D maps of each home in the adapted category.
“[They] have gone in and have scanned every single home to make sure that the features that [hosts] say they have are accurate, including the width of corridors and the width of the entry,” Catherine Powell Airbnb’s Global Head of Hosting told Forbes. “We’ve taken some of those images from the 3D scans, and that’s what you will see in the listings.”
As the business community begins to recognize that disabled individuals make up approximately 20% of the population, companies are making long overdue changes to their policies and online features.
Airbnb is an example of a company that was subject to criticism from disabled customers in its earlier years, but has since made significant modifications in the way it does business with disabled customers and employees.
In 2016, the company introduced a non-discrimination policy designed to make the company a more inclusive place for disabled employees to work. The policy seems to have succeeded as Airbnb received 100% on the Disability Equality Index for 2021 and 2022 and was recognized as a DEI Best Place to Work for Disability Inclusion.
The company has also worked to improve the Airbnb experience for disabled users. In 2017, the Airbnb purchased Accomable, a small startup that works similarly to Airbnb but is exclusively geared toward disabled travelers. The acquisition added “roughly 1,100 house and apartment listings that can accommodate guests with physical disabilities,” according to Reuters.
“Airbnb hired Accomable’s founders and most of its seven-person staff to build out Airbnb’s wheelchair-accessible housing inventory and provide more complete and accurate information to disabled travelers, who often rely on a hotel emailing pictures of a room to determine whether it is accessible.”
In 2018, the company added 21 new accessibility search filters that allow users to search for accessibility features such as step-free entry to rooms, wide entryways for wheelchairs, elevators, wheelchair accessible showers, ramps, and more.
Three years later, Airbnb updated 13 search filters and also added an accessibility review process which helps to ensure that homes rented are truly accessible. Hosts submit photos of the accessibility features in their homes, and a trained team of Airbnb employees review them.
Interested in listing your adapted home on Airbnb? Check out this video by wheelchair user and Airbnb host Sophie Morgan.