The International Day of People with Disabilities was last month and I’ve been thinking about inclusivity and how the travelling experience of those guests must be in different parts of the world.
Whether you provide your house rules in Braille for guests with visual impairments or you have added grab bars to the bathroom for people with reduced mobility, I’m really curious to learn more about your experience hosting these guests.
I think it would be interesting to collectively come up with some insights that could help ensure that guests with disabilities are embraced and able to travel more freely.
Have you ever hosted a guest with disabilities? Are you and your home prepared for hosting these guests? If so, do you highlight this in your listing?
@Debra300 Nicely done, it's good to hear that you have made the adaptations you could. I think you brought up a really interesting point about letting guests know about the surroundings, this way they can make a more informed decision and make sure they'll be safe. 🌼
Have you ever made any arrangements to cater to a particular guest's needs?
Due to the location and construction of the guesthouse, we cannot much customization to access the property. Since I don't want anyone to be disappointed or get hurt, I usually am straight forward with inquiries that contain any language about mobility concerns. If persons must use a wheelchair, cannot negotiate a steep ground incline/decline or take stairs, then our property is not for them.
I thought that I was being proactive when I installed the grab bars in the baths, but a guest said that the tubs were slippery. Since they were a little more senior to me, I took that information as a hint that more safety measures were needed. I put down anti-slip bathtub stickers, but alas they weren't anti-peel stickers, and came up after just a couple of showers. So, we removed and replaced them with bathtub mats (there was a recent thread where I picked up a tip to post a sign about how to properly lay down the mat).
The main accessibility changes that I could do for a guest is to relocate kitchenware from upper cabinet and wall, and place them in a wire rack that's at a lower height (Thanks, Liv. Now, I won't sell these racks.).
@Debra300 I think that really is the way to go 😊 you can't control your surroundings, but you can definitely make potential guests aware.
There's a Help Centre article in line with what you said about making the small changes you can. You have pretty much nailed it, but I just thought I'd share in case you're interested in having a read 🤓
(Haha you're welcome!)
My listing wouldn't be suitable for someone with mobility issues as the guest space is up an outdoor metal slat staircase. I don't know if someone with vision problems could handle it or not, but the possibilty of losing footing would concern me.
The guest shower doesn't have grab bars, but there isn't any tub, just a 4" high step-over and the shower floor is tiled in pool tiles, so it isn't slippery.
When my then 84 year old stepmom came to visit a few years ago, who is quite active and healthy, but has had foot issues and surgery, rather than housing her in the guest room, I turned my small living room into a bedroom for her, by putting a curtain rod and curtain across the pass through into the kitchen, and the sofa in there is basically a single bed that I slept on for a year when my house was in construction. The downstairs bathroom is right next to living room, so that was convenient for her, and I bought a clothes rack that hangs over the top of the door. I also rigged up a temporary handrail so she could negotiate the 3 outside steps to the downstairs area.
@Sarah977 I get where you're coming from. If some houses weren't built with inclusivity in mind, it's kind of hard to make changes in order to welcome guests with disabilities. It's great that you were able to improvise really well for having your stepmom over though! It must've been super sweet for her to have someone think of all this to make her feel comfortable.
@Liv My property is pretty well suited to those with reduced mobility: parking directly outside the door, absolutely no stairs, no lip on the shower, etc. I've hosted many seniors for this reason, and people with walkers/rollators find it easy to navigate. However, I have chosen not to use any of the checkboxes Airbnb has set up for accessibility. This is because I had an issue where someone assumed that checking some of the boxes meant that I was fully wheelchair accessible, and booked a two-week stay. The guest arrived, was dismayed, and I lost a two-week booking over March Break. I unchecked all the checkboxes that day.
I think it would be useful if Airbnb was a little clearer about the accessibility options. For example, it would be great if you could add a picture with each check box so guests had a better idea of what specifically they are getting. I think the checkboxes are a step in the right direction, but maybe if guests could also see what the host has not checked (maybe green check boxes beside what's been checked, red x's beside what's not) it might also make it clearer.
Actually @Alexandra316 , I have pictures that coincide with the checkboxes, at one point last year it became a requirement to add them if you checked any of the accessibility choices. Most individuals with Mobility issues are very cognoscente of their particular needs and are pretty out front about them, if they aren't or can't due to other challenges, they should not be traveling alone without an advocate who will ensure they are safe and have their needs met. It sounds like your place is pretty accessible (good going!!!) , what areas were not for the 2 week guest if I could ask? JR
@Melodie-And-John0 I totally agree that people generally know exactly what will work for them. I didn't ask the guest, but she was very young and I got the impression that it might have been the first or one of her first excursions on her own (with her sister, of a similar age).
In the case of my Flat, it's mostly the bathroom that's the issue. There is no room beside the toilet for a transfer. The bed space is a bit tight, but with a little bit of shifting of furniture it would be fine.
@Alexandra316 , Bathroom transfer is a challenge in a wee bathroom like the ones in our home, our "access suite" is best prepared for it but still not perfect. Adding pictures that show the good and the not perfect can help folks decide for themselves and reminding them to ask questions about anything they werent sure about before, during and after is about all you can do otherwise to open doors or describe limitations that might not make our place perfect for them is about all you can do in most cases. JR
@Alexandra316 Thanks for sharing that experience with the guest that got the wrong impression from the checkboxes! I'll definitely pass this on to the team 😊
From what you told us, it seems that this particular guest didn't mention her disabilities beforehand. But do you both find that most guests with disabilities will make this clear and ask related questions during the booking process? Are there any frequently asked questions?
@Liv The only time I've ever had questions is when an adult child is booking for themselves and an older parent with mobility issues. If people have a disability themselves, they seem to have a good idea of what they need and they make the decision on their own in my experience.
One of the only wheelchair access bookings I have had contacted me through the messaging and asked about door widths. While my doors actually were wide enough for his chair, there was an old stub wall sticking out in my wifes office that was a remnant of days gone by that really would have made it tough. I told him if he trusted me to make that wall disappear, I would promise him the pathway would be cleared before he arrived so he booked the space for last July's Baseball hall of fame induction weekend. Last winters January break, I gutted my wifes office and the wall and 200 years worth of ugliness disappeared with it. It came out very nice, its now an easy roll into the bath no obstacles whatsoever! Unfortunately, covid came to town so he along with 100 or so bookings canceled, you know the rest of that story!!!!! In the end, our "Access Studio suite" is even more accessible than it was before, were four wheel ready now! Stay well, JR
@Melodie-And-John0 That's really nice! Was the guest pleased with the change?
Hopefully more travellers with disabilities will be able to enjoy your facilities soon 🤞
Also, you know I love a good before and after picture. Have got one to share?
Thanks @Liv , we do what we can, Luckily, our carpenter works for peanuts (Me!)! unfortunately the guest never saw it, he had to cancel due to the covid onslaught! That's ok, It was something that needed to be done regardless of any one booking, the place is better now and better is better!