Most people, including myself, likely do not give a thought at all to the degree to which our hotel or travel accommodations are accessible to people with disabilities. But for those who do, British startup Accomable has come to the rescue with a platform that it hopes will be like “Airbnb for the disabled”.
In order to get a feel for the platform, I did a sample search (“England”, in this case), and found that the platform brings up listings, as well as a map. From the listing page, you will find profiles that indicate the type of rooms offered, as well the availability of step-free access and a roll-in shower. You can filter listings down by general factors (access to internet, TV, gym, pool, etc.) and food/kitchen facilities (refrigerator, microwave, tea/coffee, etc.), but the real highlight is the disability-focused filters, such as wheelchair or scooter hire, adjustable bed, shower seat, ceiling or mobile hoist, and more. Clicking on a profile reveals a description of the property, a list of available equipment, availability (short, medium, or long-term stay), amenities, the level of accessibility (whether or not it has options for hearing/visually-impaired individuals, step-free access, and bathroom facilities), as well as additional relevant information.
Similar to other hotel-booking platforms, Accomable generates revenue by taking commissions.
Thought it only launched last summer, the startup has already established an international foothold, with offices in London and Austin, Texas, as well as plans to move into Singapore this year. Funding this expansion is 300,000 pounds in seed funding from “leading investors in the tech and hospitality sector”, a round that builds upon the funding that the startup initially received from the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University, the alma mater of one of the company’s co-founders.
The idea to build a platform geared towards to helping disabled individuals find travel accommodations did not simply hit the 2 co-founders, Srin Madipalli and Martyn Sibley, randomly, but grew out of their own frustrations, as lifelong friends wheelchair-bound by Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA), with the quality of travel options available to people who fall under these conditions. Having created their own platform, the startup now offers access to more than 500 rental properties in 36 countries, with another 1,500 currently being vetted with the help of travel giant HomeAway.