For travelers with physical disabilities, finding comfortable accommodations can be a significant challenge. Airbnb is committed to making travel more inclusive and accessible for everyone by working to attract more listings with accessibility features and making accessible features easier to find by improving its search features, including easier-to-use filters and better photos on the search results page. To be sure, there are many critics of Airbnb’s accessibility options. A study from 2016 by Travel for All concluded that discrimination against guests with disabilities is prevalent. Travel for All recognizes that requiring mom and pop operators to meet the American with Disabilities Act is not possible, but it advocates strongly for increased access and equity.
While meeting every requirement of the ADA would be cost prohibitive for most short term rental hosts, we believe there are steps you can take to welcome more folks with disabilities into your unit. You likely already have accessibility features that you can acknowledge in your listing and Airbnb gives a simple way to do that. Or perhaps you can make a few changes to expand accessibility in order to increase your marketability to a group of people who want and need to travel, but often have limited options for accommodation.
There are several blogs that feature fully accessible travel accommodations that are great fun to read. We love a well-written travel blog and really appreciate the work of Curb Free with Cory Lee. Cory is a world traveller and writes interesting and detailed how-tos and reviews for travelling in a wheelchair. He’s been everywhere from Buenos Aires to Finland. While Cory often stays in mainstream hotels, because they have fully accessible spaces, he has provided delightful reviews of a number of fully-accessible short term rentals including an alpaca farm in North Carolina and 10 accessible beach houses.
The bathroom at Whisper Valley Ranch is wide open, with a no-threshold shower, and floating countertops, making it very easy to access for guests who use wheelchairs.
On the hosting side, Amy and I had a great chat with Michael, who purchased the gorgeous 160-acre Whisper Valley Ranch in Santa Margarita, California a year ago. Michael is paraplegic, so understands the needs of travellers who use wheelchairs. They’ve recently added entrance ramps to improve accessibility to the property, and while the property is not currently completely ADA accessible, it’s in a rocky, hilly terrain that limits outdoor activity, they do have floating countertops and shower benches and strive to provide a wonderful vacation rental for every type of guest. Michael’s long-term plans for creating an accessible retreat where kids who use wheelchairs can come and enjoy nature.
Does your space have any of the following? If so be sure and check them off in your listing. Bonus points for including a picture that demonstrates that you have these.
Airbnb Accessibility Features
- No stairs or steps to enter–There are no curbs, steps, or stairs to get to the entrance, and the path through the entryway is flat. If it’s a multi-story building, both the front door and unit entrance have no curbs, steps, or stairs.
- Well-lit path to entrance–The sidewalk or pathway to the guest entrance has lighting that makes nighttime navigation easier.
- Step-free path to entrance–The exterior pathway—like a driveway or sidewalk—to the guest entrance is at least 32 inches wide and flat, with little or no slope.
- Wide entrance for guest–The entrance or doorway guests will use to enter is at least 32 inches wide.
Moving around the space
- No stairs or steps to enter–There are no stairs or steps to get into the common area, and there’s a flat path through the entryway.
- Wide hallways–The hallways on the ground floor are at least 36 inches wide.
- Elevator–The home or building has an elevator that’s at least 52 inches deep and a doorway at least 32 inches wide.
Equipment and parking
- Disabled parking spot–There’s a parking spot that’s been designated as suitable for a person with disabilities.
- Mobile hoist–The home has a mobile device that can lift someone in and out of a wheelchair.
- Pool with pool hoist–The home has a pool with a device that can lift someone in and out of it.
- Ceiling hoist–The home has a device fixed to the ceiling that can lift someone in and out of a wheelchair.
Other helpful features to highlight would be grab bars in the bathroom and rollup kitchen counters or lower height microwaves.