Airbnb’s commitment to accessibility and what it means for people with disabilities

Waiting for new technologies to include the disabled community is like waiting for a great PlayStation or Xbox game to be ported to PC. At some point you give up until years later when you are delightfully surprised and grateful for something you thought would never happen. That’s what it’s been like waiting for online marketplaces that offer the “sharing economy” to include accessible short-term lodging.

The problem up until now wasn’t that there were not any accessible short-term lodging options in these marketplaces. The problem was determining which ones were accessible and which were not. A disabled person cannot book their vacation’s accommodations based on hope that it will all work out; it rarely does. Enter Airbnb to the rescue.

I learned about Airbnb in its early years, mid 2010, but was disappointed to find that it was not possible to determine if the place was wheelchair accessible.  The excitement over discovering the hospitality service quickly faded. Today, I discovered that has recently changed.

On March 15, 2018, Airbnb announced new features and accessibility filters for people with disabilities. The discovery of these new features and filters breeds a sort of freedom. The kind of freedom one experiences when they regain mobility using a wheelchair for the first time after an injury. The kind of freedom when one gets adaptive hand controls and gets their license back. The kind of freedom money provides in this world.

This new option for travelers with disabilities opens the door to lower-cost options and unique experiences. Two characteristics that are usually mutually exclusive. With that said, I’m excited to see how Airbnb plays into my next accessible vacation.

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