Airbnb Aims to Make Travel More Accessible

When Airbnb acquired Accomable in 2017, it came with a bonus: Accomable’s founder Srin Madipalli.  Mr. Madipalli has travelled the world in his wheelchair. Now, as Airbnb's accessibility product and program manager, he can help many others do the same.

Mr. Madipalli is a geneticist and lawyer with an Oxford MBA. “I have used a power wheelchair all my life, so I know from personal experience how difficult it can be to travel with a disability, and how nervous many people in our community are about travel.”

Airbnb was facing complaints from some of its users, who said its listings weren't detailed enough when it came to accessibility. Mr. Madipalli and a friend founded in 2015, to connected travellers with disabilities to verified accessible properties. Our first step has been to make it easier for people to find an Airbnb listing that meets their needs. We used to only allow guests to search for listings that were wheelchair accessible. Now, we have 21 new accessibility filters so guests can search for the listing that works for them. I am working closely with our community to find ways to build upon and improve these filters so we can cater to people with all types of disabilities.”

If you have a modern, step-free home with wide entryways, there's a high chance your property will already be suitable for a number of people with accessibility needs with minimal adaptation. Something I'm keen to emphasize is that “wheelchair accessible” is not just a single tick box. My accessibility needs will be very different from another individual who has a disability, and there are many people in our community who have a hidden disability or a sensory impairment. The important thing is to give people the right information so they can decide for themselves if a home is right for them.”