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Accessible Air bnb is coming
Celebrating the UN’s International Day for Persons with Disabilities on Sunday 3rd December - why Airbnb’s acquisition of Accomable marks a major shift for accessible travel.
Srin Madipalli is Accessibility Product and Program Manager at Airbnb. He was previously the CEO and Co-founder at Accomable, a platform for booking accessible properties worldwide, which was acquired by Airbnb on 16 November. As we look froward to the UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Srin talks about how he’ll be working with Airbnb, his plans for accessibility, and why this acquisition marks a major shift in the world of accessible travel and tech.
Back in 2015, I launched Accomable with my childhood friend, Martyn Sibley - an experimental web-app which sought to help disabled travellers find verified accessible accommodation you could trust. It was born out of a passion for travel but also out of frustration with the logistics of finding and booking accommodation with the right adaptations to suit my needs. Together with an incredible team, Accomable was scaled up to list vetted properties in over 60 countries worldwide, and built up a brilliant community of fellow travellers.
Fast forward just over two years later - and lots and lots of coffee! - and I am now based at Airbnb’s offices in San Francisco, leading our efforts to make all aspects of our community more accessible.
A shift in attitudes
One reason I’m really excited to be working with Airbnb is the commitment they showed from the start towards accessibility, and meeting the needs of disabled people. I think it marks an exciting shift not only in the travel industry but for companies across all sectors.
For the UK, it highlights again the value of the purple pound, and the opportunities that exist in the accessible travel market and beyond. I hope all types of companies see Airbnb’s acquisition and follow our lead to invest in long term, sustainable changes to make all aspects of their business more accessible. As a self-confessed tech geek, I hope we’ll also see new tech being developed which can help disabled people, and see even more disabled entrepreneurs build tech that allows for better accessibility.
Our aim remains to lead the way in accessible travel. We’ll be using all our expertise and know-how across a range of projects on this front. The first will be working with Airbnb to improve their filters and ensure accessibility information is as full and accessible as possible when disabled travellers search for homes.
But there’s a lot more we can do. We want to make sure we’re working with more disabled entrepreneurs, to encourage more people to share their homes and devise local trips on Airbnb. We want to make sure we’re catering to people of all disabilities, beyond those which are mobility-based (something we often struggled to do at Accomable, so I’m very excited that we’ll now have the resources to address this). And we want to ensure Airbnb is a great place for disabled people to work.
To achieve this and more, we’ll be sharing our journey through Airbnb and via blog posts like this one. As part of this, we would love to hear your thoughts and feedback as we roll out new changes, to make sure they’re as relevant and useful as possible.
Watch this space!
Let us know about your experiences of accessible (or inaccessible!) accommodation on holiday.