“When I travel, I’m kind of a free spirit. I go where I feel,” says guest Jake, who uses a wheelchair to get around. “The one thing I want is a roof over my head—a place to go to the restroom and somewhere to sleep.”
It may sound simple enough, but Jake’s first trip to London turned out to be a “scary situation,” he said. He was boarding an overnight flight from San Francisco when he received a cancellation message from his host, “He said he didn’t realize he’d checked off accessibility features on his listing,” Jake remembered. “Suddenly, I’m vulnerable. When I land, I’m scrounging around for somewhere else to stay that’s wheelchair accessible. It already feels uneasy to be in a foreign country where people know you’re a tourist and can take advantage of you, but when you’re disabled, it’s terrifying.”
Last year on Airbnb, there were about two million searches for homes with accessible features, according to internal research. To head off experiences like Jake’s and help create a great experience, Airbnb will now require hosts to upload photos when selecting certain accessibility features. We’ll be rolling these changes out gradually in the next few months, and once we do, you’ll get a notification to update your listing within 60 days.
Once you upload the photo, guests will be able to see that you have an accessibility feature. We’ll also publish it to your listing’s “Accessibility features” section. This will help guests decide if your home is a good fit for their needs without asking you additional questions.
“If you say, ‘Here’s my front door and here’s a picture,’ it’s so helpful for the disabled person. Even hosts with the best intentions may interpret something as accessible, but it actually isn’t. With photos, you won’t need to assume because you’re letting the person with the disability decide,” Jake said.
Here’s how to showcase accessible photos, which will help ensure accuracy, set guest expectations, and save you time answering questions.
4 easy steps to publish accessibility photos:
1. Select your accessibility features
On Airbnb.com: Go to your listing, scroll to “Accessibility features,” and click “Edit.”
On the Airbnb mobile app: Go to your listing, scroll to “Accessibility features,” and tap.
The first screens will prompt you to select your accessibility features when entering the space, getting around the space, and specific areas such as: bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room.
2. Do a walk through of your home
Imagine your guest arriving for the first time, and notice what you encounter as you try to get inside and around each room. Are there: stairs or steps, a wide entrance, extra space around the bed, and other features? Each screen will give you step-by-step instructions on what to look for.
3. Take and upload photos.
When you select an accessibility feature, you’ll be asked to upload a photo. For example, if you check “I have this feature” under “Extra space around the bed,” we’ll show you tips on how to take the photo. Select “Add photo” to choose from your photo library or take a photo (if you’re using the Airbnb mobile app), and then “Save.”
4. Preview, then publish
After you’ve added photos, you can review them and, if needed, add a description. When you’re confident your photos are clear and can help guests decide if the space works for them, select “Looks good.”
Providing photos helps guests with limited mobility feel they belong and set the stage for a five-star review. If you’re a host selecting accessibility features for the first time, be prepared to provide photos. And if you’re a host who has selected accessibility features, expect a notification from Airbnb with more details.
As for Jake, he eventually found a host in London who could accommodate his needs: “The host was incredible and said, ‘Please come!’ He made everything spectacular and just wanted to make sure I was taken care of — he saved me. Having accurate information up front allows a disabled person to really be an explorer.”
Discover more photography tips to help you showcase your listing’s accessibility features— and stand out in search.
I'm very glad that Airbnb is implementing a process like this; it is very needed.
It does, however, still need some tweaks - major ones.
I saw a listing this evening that indicated that the room(s) were accessible, and indeed, upon looking at the photos, I could confirm that was the case.
The listing also said that there were no stairs to enter the home.
No, there were not any stairs up to the front door - but buried way, way down in either the listing or one of the reviews, it surfaced that there are actually *six steps* from street level down to the level where the front door is - and an *entire regular flight* of stairs from the house's main floor down to where the listed rooms are!
Another photo showed an entrance to the rooms from outdoors which clearly had stairs - and a gravel pathway to the stairs up to the carport level. There is *nothing* even *remotely* accessible about any of that! Aside from the stairs, it is impossible to operate a wheelchair or walker on gravel.
Most shockingly, this listing was posted by an interior designer with commercial experience, who should know better. The average host isn't going to know half of what she should.
It doesn't matter if there is extra space around the bed if you can't even *get* to the room!
And what do you mean by "accessible-height bed"? How on earth is Joe Q. Public host supposed to know what that even is? How am *I* to know what they think it is? It's a meaningless term. This needs to be a specific measurement - exactly how high the bed is.
Accessibility is not just about mobility limitations, either. You need to be asking about features that make a space accessible for both the visually-impaired and those with hearing deficits. That's a whole additional list of topics, but would include things like extra loud smoke/fire alarms, strobe lights for the alarm, and more.
Hello Wendy 812
I agree with your astute realisation and explanation. Not all 'disabled' people are in a wheelchair. (Airbnb are trying)!
This overfed behemoth needs to think and consider that 'disability' is also thier INABILITY to understand the needs of others, especially paying clients/customers/users.
They deal with so many host and guests that this is just a publicity stunt to make us think that they give a ***.
A very disgruntled user of this 'service'.
I am a host with lots of experience with people with VI. My home is not wheelchair accessible but I could definitely host a person with VI or a hearing impairment. There is nowhere to show this on my page.
We would very much like to provide properties which are fully accessible however before we do make these investments we were wondering if there was a way to gauge demand?
Could someone point us in the direction of any research? Or are there websites where people say 'this area needs more accessible properties' etc? Airbnb have evidence of demand it could share?
As much detail as possible would be great. For example there might be statistics on the usual number of people that travel together and so on. We would like to address the needs as best as possible. Are there preferences to stay in hotels? What would make an ideal place to stay?
Thank you very much and all very bests,
Do some Airbnb research of your own in your area. Switch to traveler and put in accessibility options in the filter and check out the need! In my area I am only 1 of 2 truly handicap accessible places to stay on the Outer Banks of North Carolina so our need was very high and I’m so happy that we have had many guests utilize these amenities.
The most important features seem to be one level properties, a ramp from ground level to the front door, roll in shower with shower chair and rails in shower as well as next to the toilet, lowered sinks and mirrors, lowered bed frame and accessibility next to the bed. MOST doorways are handicap accessible but just double check your widths before posting.
Also a good addition is to look into your local handicap accessible activities and restaurants and make them a guestbook that includes these options.
In my opinion it is most definitely worth your investment as well as just being the right thing to do if your property is already set up to easily make these accommodations. Good luck!
@Dawn362 I am SO excited to read your post (four months later, I realize)! I am in your general area, and I agree completely with your assessment. I have had several inquiries every season about whether or not my place is accessible. When I did a search, I found only hotels in the Virginia Beach area and some very expensive places in Sandbridge. Then there were a couple in NC, as you mention.
My personal interest is in making our place accessible to veterans, but then also opening it up to large groups and families (our place is big) because we get bookings for graduations and ceremonies at the military facilities and local schools. We often get queries about accessibility, so much so that I am moving forward with a stairlift and ramp and, as you said, rails, lowering what I can, opening up what I can. I can only do so much, to start with. I am also, bit by bit, addressing other types of needs, such as spectrum disorders and visual impairment. I've had many children come (at least, it seems, one per family) "on the spectrum" and many moms have commented that their children do well in the place.
Thank you for the suggestion about the "local handicap accessible activities and restaurants" guidebook!
Glad to see there is movement in our area!!
min response to your question there is HUGE demand in Norfolk for accessible properties!
my barn is single storey and has some accessible features but it is not 100% disabled friendly!
I would be seriously interested to discuss this with you further as I’m disabled (non wheelchair, my mum is disabled) and I used to be an estate agent and property renovator. The market is huge here. Currently there are only 3 totally adapted properties within 15 miles of my Barn and the area needs more!
Lou [Surname hidden]. Airbnb Host
Once again, Airbnb has hosts jumping through hoops. Pretty soon we'll have to submit to blood typing to be able to host.
We rent timeshares at a resort. We own weeks, not the actual properties, and haven't stayed there as guests in 15 years. I have them currently listed as accessible. There is an elevator, no steps to access the lobby, wide doorways to the units, and plenty of space around the beds. I guess the units aren't accessible to someone in wheelchair, though, since there are bathtub-shower combos. But how the **** am I supposed to know the height of the bed, the toilet, etc. Next thing Airbnb will want is low stoves and low vanities for the wheelchair-bound. How about magnifying makeup mirrors with Broadway lights, while we're at it? I'm disabled myself, though not in a wheelchair (yet), but this is going way too far. One size does not fit all, and we're continually placed in an untenable position by virtue of the kind of listings we have.
On the positive side, this is the first time I can remember getting advance notice of the latest requirements without having the dubious pleasure and surprise of finding them by accident when checking one of my many listings.
I like this development. Just this morning Ivve been asked specific questions from a wheelchair user. I have had our property accessed by the 'One Step' mobility scheme here in the UK and have a comprehensive accessibility statement that gives a thorough description and all measurements, loor coverings etc. I would like to have been abe to upload this document to the listing but could not see how that was possible so have ended up copying it into the messages.
Well, this is an interesting topic, it would be nice for the traveler to know before booking whether the room and the location is accessible and how much accessible, as some people mention the room could have amble space but what about the rest of the location, the bathroom, the entry, the space between the parking area and the entrance, also is this accessibility limited to physical accessible or is Visual and hearing, I know my location is not ADA compliance the walkway from the parking area is narrow (could be expanded) the bathroom has a tub (could install handrail), but the biggest problem would be the hallway and room door their standard and there is no way to expand it.
Also, Airbnb is not sharing the demand information they say it was for internal purpose only, who would invest thousands of dollars on improvement without knowing is fit would capitalize on it.
I think it is a good idea but impractical in most homes in the USA that are already built.
Our Airbnb rental apartment is accessible. I’ve checked off 20 different areas of accessibility, but when I preview, only 16 show up. Hand rails in the shower, for example, are an important feature that we have checked off, but do not show up on the guest view. Is it because you are updating the website and will soon be asking for photos? Thank you!
@Rachel571 you have raised a very valid point re Visual Impaired & Hearing Impaired, it's long overdue everyone embraced all people in their homes & looked outside the square.
You may like to find out who the coordinator / head of the Accessibility project
person is and write to them, start a movement, not only here in CC but in the wider community.
Who is the head of the Accessibility project?
Visually & Hearing impaired persons accessibility is a topic that warrants been included in a Monthly newsletter for wider discussion, do you agree?
How many Visually & Hearing impaired people work within the Accessibility department?
I had a guest book and not disclose his handicap. It wasn't a mobility, hearing, or visual issue. He had 2 prosthetic arms and was a burn victim. He couldn't use a keypad for the front door, couldn't use a key either. He also couldn't turn a round door knob. I ended up giving him the garage door remote to enter and exit. I was stressed the whole time he was here! He at one point disclosed that he was on hydrocodone for phantom pain and stimulants to counter the effects on the hydrocodone. How would any other host address that???