Disability is not one-size-fits-all and neither is #accessibility. It's personal.
From the onset at #BecomingRentABLE, education has been a major focus. We have strived to bring the subject of accessibility into the everyday lexicon of short-term rental (STR) owners, property management companies, booking platform companies, travel and tourism industry professionals, and the general public. We have worked hard to frame the narrative in a positive light as a matter of good business and service delivery. We are making it easier than ever for families and individuals to find an accessible vacation rental that meets their needs.
Part of that #education process has been to provide short explanations of accessibility features and why they are needed. In most cases, we present them as readily achievable solutions to common barriers in the STR industry. Recently, we had some feedback on a social media post we’d made about a step-in shower as an accessibility feature. The comments were basically saying a step-in shower is not an “accessible” shower since it could not be accessible to someone who uses a wheelchair; in other words, if it’s not accessible to everyone, then we shouldn’t say it is accessible. I understand the sentiment, and welcome the feedback, but I disagree also.
We at Becoming rentABLE have set out to change the notion of accessibility as an all or nothing mindset. We’ve been saying all along that accessibility is not a “one size fits all” issue. Accessibility is personal to the individual. Yes, in an ideal world, all STR properties would embrace universal design and be barrier-free, and our team at Becoming rentABLE advocates for #universaldesign. But we don’t live in an ideal world. The reality is there are very few STR properties that are completely barrier free, and universal design is not always practical as a matter of renovation or adaptation of an existing property. However, STR owners who take steps to make changes for accessibility where they are able can make a huge difference to many of their renters. Even small changes can be impactful. And while a property may not be accessible to one person, it may be fully accessible to another. For instance, a step-in shower is not wheel-chair accessible – it’s not designed to be - but it may be perfectly accessible to those who have back problems, knee problems, a prosthetic leg, a neurological condition, or other situation which makes a step-over tub/shower difficult to access. It may also be accessible to a person who has the ability to transfer from a wheelchair to a shower chair. If a STR property owner is renovating a bathroom, but cannot put in a roll-in shower due to space or budget constraints, why not install a step in shower as the next best alternative?
Accessibility is personal. That’s why we’ve created 36 search filters allowing the individual user to select those accessibility features they deem necessary in a STR. If you require a roll-in shower, select that feature and only properties that have a roll-in shower will come up. If a step-in shower is sufficient, select that as a criteria and more properties will come up. Additionally, we are taking the guesswork out of accessibility by offering a certification service to property owners and property managers. With our certification, renters can book a property in confidence knowing the property meets our accessibility criteria for the certification awarded. We think these are good solutions in the search for accessible short-term rentals. And from our collective personal experiences, these solutions are welcome.
For more information on short-term rental properties, visit www.BecomingRentABLE.com.