After a report released earlier this year that the Airbnb experience was not particularly hospitable to customers with disabilities, the acquisition hopefully signals a positive change in Airbnb's inclusivity efforts. The study found that hosts were less likely to pre-approve travelers with disabilities, pre-approving travelers with spinal cord injuries at a rate of 25 percent, compared to 75 percent rate for travelers without disabilities.
Members of the Accomable team will now work for Airbnb, helping the company expand its accessibility efforts as Airbnb works to integrate Accomable's current listings.
In its statement announcing the new relationship, Airbnb acknowledged previous issues and gave a general overview of its plans moving forward:
Previously, travelers with disabilities could only search for homes that were labeled as "wheelchair accessible" when they were searching for an accessible place to stay. 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. To help address this problem, we have been working on new "accessibility needs" checklists for hosts.
Accomable was founded in 2015 by Srin Madipalli and Martyn Sibley, childhood friends and world travelers with Spinal Muscular Atrophy. They created the platform out of frustration with the inability to find reliable, accessible housing while traveling. Madipalli will be joining the Airbnb team to help oversee the implementation of the new accessibility initiatives.
On its website, the Accomable team described the acquisition as, "an incredible opportunity, which will enable us to take our dream and mission to a global level, working together, to make the world a more accessible place."