Airbnb buys startup to help you find disability-friendly rentals

Jon Fingas

Airbnb knows its hosts haven't always been kind to people with disabilities, and it's taking some definitive steps to fix that weakness. The company just bought Accomable, a startup that helps you embark on disability-friendly travel. While Accomable is winding down over the months ahead, its accommodation listings will find their way into Airbnb's entries for over 60 countries. You'll know if a host really does have accommodations for disabled guests throughout the home, not just wheelchair access at the entry. Also, Airbnb is pursuing its own improvements to help you make more informed choices.

It's offering checklists that hosts can fill out to indicate their exact level of accommodation, such as whether entryways are wide enough to fit wheelchairs. In theory, it'll be easy to ensure that you have access to the kitchen or washroom without having to ask hosts. The feature is starting to appear on the web right now, and it should reach mobile apps within a few months.

It'll take a while before these additions are noticeable. This isn't the end of Airbnb's efforts, however, and the combination of the Accomable deal with the checklist feature is at least an acknowledgment that the existing strategy wasn't working. It already had a policy barring discrimination against disabled guests, but that clearly wasn't enough to prevent some hosts from rejecting guests who disclosed their conditions. In the near future, you might not have to take that risk -- you can make a beeline for the homes that are genuinely ready to welcome you in.

Airbnb