The sale of a business set up by two disabled entrepreneurs to the online travel giant Airbnb is a “landmark” sign that businesses are taking more notice of disabled people’s spending power, according to the duo.
The Accomable website, set up by childhood friends Srin Madipalli and Martyn Sibley, has announced that it is being taken over by US-based Airbnb.
Accomable was only launched in 2015, with the aim of providing information to disabled travellers about verified, accessible properties all over the world, and “to enable anyone to go anywhere”.
Madipalli said he was “very sensitive to the fact that some in our community may be concerned that accessibility will again become an afterthought that is drowned out within a larger platform”.
But he told Disability News Service (DNS) that he had had no reservations about the sale.
He said: “We met with Airbnb’s founding team and senior management teams and were immediately impressed with their commitment to making their community more accessible.
“We were very aware that some people in our community might be concerned that accessibility would become an afterthought, but it’s always been our mission to help anyone go anywhere and with Airbnb I see we can achieve this and more.”
He said that “as part of Airbnb we’ll have the tools and resources to continue what we were doing at Accomable but on a much bigger scale.
“This not only means we’ll be able to find and vet more accessible properties, but we’ll also be able to work with more disabled entrepreneurs to consider sharing their homes as hosts or leading accessible trips.
“We’ll also have the resources to cater to people with a wider variety of disabilities (this is something we covered a little on Accomable but not nearly as much as we’d have liked).”
He is now moving to San Francisco to work full-time for Airbnb, leading the team that develops and improves Airbnb’s accessibility features and filters.
In its own statement, Airbnb said Madipalli and his team would build on its efforts to make its services more accessible to disabled people, while the Accomable listings would gradually be included into the Airbnb database.