Airbnb is adding a new set of filters to help travelers find accommodations that are suitable for those with accessibility needs. Hosts will now have to indicate whether their rentals include things like an elevator, wide entryways, or roll-in showers, and travelers can select a number of amenities they require to find the right place to stay.
For hosts, Airbnb will offer descriptions of what exactly it means when the service refers to particular accessibility features. For example, a “wide doorway” is defined as one that is at least 32 inches wide.
Previously, the only accessibility feature was “wheelchair-accessible,” which Airbnb said was vague for customers in terms of what specifically was included in this filter. Now, customers can narrow their searches down by features within each room of the house.
The update comes as part of Airbnb’s acquisition of Accomable, a travel site that focuses on accessible rentals. Accomable’s listings, which are live in more than 60 countries and roughly 1,100 house and apartment listings that can accommodate guests with physical disabilities.
The acquisition is a part of a greater effort from Airbnb to become more accessible. After undergoing an accessibility audit last year, it made a number of changes, including redesigning text in the site so it is easier to read, establishing trainings for engineers and designers about how to build accessible products, and partnering with Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired to run research studies.
It also plans to roll out “accessibility needs” checklists for hosts in the upcoming months.
“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 said in a blog post.
Accomable will phase out its site over the next few months. Co-founder Madipalli will lead Airbnb’s company’s accessibility efforts. Sibley no longer works for the platform.
“I am very sensitive to the fact that some in our community may be concerned that accessibility will again become an afterthought that is drowned out within a larger platform,” wrote Madipalli in another blog post. “[But] we are convinced that joining Airbnb provides the best opportunity to take our dream and mission to a global level.”
The new accessibilities filter is available now on the web, and will arrive on Airbnb’s iOS and Android apps soon.