16 experts advise on what’s to come this year.
Airbnb has acquired Accomable, a London-based startup that
uses a similar model as Airbnb but features listings that specifically accommodate
those with disabilities. Airbnb did not disclose the financial terms of the
Founded in 2015 by Srin Madipalli and Martyn Sibley, friends
who have spinal muscular atrophy, the startup raised $440,000 in seed funding
and operates in more than 60 countries. The Accomable website will wind down
over the coming months, according to Airbnb, and its listings will be incorporated
into the Airbnb platform.
Madipalli, who was Accomable CEO, and his team also will lead
an Airbnb push already underway to make listings and the Airbnb digital platforms
more disability friendly. "Previously, travelers with disabilities could
only search for homes that were labeled as 'wheelchair accessible' when they
were searching for an accessible place to stay," Airbnb stated on its
blog. "Guests weren’t getting the information they needed to find the
right homes nor the confidence that the home they selected would actually be
accessible for them."
Airbnb has built an "accessibility needs"
checklist for its hosts that allows them to indicate whether their listings
include such features as a step-free entry to rooms or wide-enough entryways to
facilitate wheelchair access. Guests can search Airbnb's website based on
accessibility criteria, and that search capability will go live on Apple iOS
and Android during the next few months.
In addition to refining that effort, Madipalli
wrote on the Accomable website that his team will work with Airbnb to ensure
that properties can accommodate "as wide a variety of disabilities as
possible," not just mobility-based disabilities. He also will assist the
company's diversity and belonging team to ensure Airbnb is a positive place to
work for those with disabilities.
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