Airbnb Works To Improve Offerings For Those With Disabilities
Airbnb, which has faced accusations of discrimination against travelers with disabilities in the past, is stepping up its efforts to better accommodate guests with various needs.
The short-term rental platform said this week that it is implementing new procedures for verifying accessibility features advertised on its site. As part of the accessibility review process, hosts must submit pictures of such features. Photos are then manually reviewed by a specialized team at Airbnb for accuracy.
The company is also updating 13 search filters to make sure that people with disabilities can find rentals that meet their needs. For example, the filter for “wide entrance to bedroom” is now “bedroom entrance wider than 32 inches,” Airbnb said.
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Other features that users can search for include step-free access to the rental itself, the bedroom, the bathroom or the shower as well as accessible parking and the availability of a ceiling or mobile hoist.
The changes come as part of a broader update to Airbnb’s platform that include more than 50 upgrades ranging from greater protection for hosts to the ability to test a listing’s wifi speed.
Airbnb said its agents have already reviewed and confirmed 100,000 accessibility features in 25,000 homes worldwide under the new procedures.
Reyma McCoy McDeid, executive director of the National Council on Independent Living, said her group worked with Airbnb on the updates and that the changes should benefit travelers with disabilities.
“We’re especially thrilled that guests with disabilities will be able to make reservations with confidence, thanks to Airbnb requiring hosts to provide photos of the accessibility features they advertise in their homes and now launching a process to review these photos for accuracy,” she said.
In addition to updates to rental listings, Airbnb is also detailing more about accessibility features for its experiences, which give people an opportunity to explore new places or activities. Users can now apply 11 filters to experiences to find out if they have accessible parking and bathrooms, if sign language is available, if there are any extreme sensory stimuli, if a quiet retreat space is provided and more.
Airbnb has worked to make improvements in recent years to better serve travelers with disabilities after a 2017 Rutgers University study found that hosts often turned away people with disabilities even in cases where they listed rentals as accessible.