Airbnb Using AI To Vet Accessible Rentals
Airbnb is turning to artificial intelligence to make it easier for people with disabilities to find rentals that meet their needs.
The short-term rental platform is introducing a new “adapted” category on its website this week.
The new section will feature more than 1,000 homes worldwide “offering features specifically modified or designed for guests with mobility needs,” the company said. “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.”
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Airbnb said it is working with the spatial data company Matterport to 3D map all of the homes in the adapted category to verify that they meet mobility criteria.
Listings for homes in the adapted category will also include two-dimensional floor plans, Airbnb said.
“We are thrilled to introduce a new way to search for homes that have been adapted for wheelchair access, with verified step-free entrances into the home, bedroom and bathroom as well as additional bathroom features such as grab bars,” said Suzanne Edwards, accessibility standards lead at Airbnb. “From treehouses to geometric domes, our new ‘adapted’ category offers a multitude of unique stays that guests with mobility needs can book with peace of mind. Adapted forms part of our ongoing work to revolutionize the world of accessible travel.”
The new category aimed at travelers with disabilities is one of several that Airbnb is rolling out this week. Others will highlight homes that are new to the site and those that are trending, among other things.
Last year, Airbnb implemented updated procedures to verify accessibility features advertised in listings on the site. The company started requiring hosts to submit pictures of such features to be manually reviewed by a specialized team at Airbnb.
In the past, Airbnb has faced accusations of discrimination with a 2017 Rutgers University study finding that hosts often turned away people with disabilities even in cases where they listed rentals as accessible.
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