Accessible Airbnb

Open plan room with grey couch and low white coffee table on a polished wood floor with rugAirbnb has acquired Accomable, a travel site that focuses on accessible rentals. Accomable’s listings, which are live in more than 60 countries, will be rolled into Airbnb’s over the next few months. For hosts, Airbnb will offer detailed descriptions of what an accessible feature means, such as a “wide doorway” being defined as one that is at least 32 inches wide. Airbnb will gather information from hosts and pass it on to guests to make their own selection. So you will be able search for accessibility features by the room. The new access filter is available now on the web, and will arrive on Airbnb’s iOS and Android apps soon. There was a previous post with more information about Accomable.  


Inclusive design is more than a checklist

A desk with a large sheet of paper and pink post it notes. A person stands with their hand resting on the table.“Truly inclusive designs are never really finished, and becoming fluent in inclusive design takes more than a checklist. We all need a map when we start exploring any new world, …” This is the introduction to a “guidance map” aimed at leading individuals and teams through the processes of creating inclusive thinking and practice. Although focused on technology, some of the principles and processes can be applied in most situations. For example, “Learn about your audiences; their motivations, needs, behaviors, challenges, pain points and goals”. The key headings in this article on are: Broadening perspectives and building empathy; Bringing diversity into teams and processes; and Building inclusion into designs.  


AI for Seeing: an new App

Picture of an iPhone magnifying a business cardMicrosoft has launched a new app, Seeing AI  that helps people who are blind or have low vision. It converts text to talk, and recognises objects and people. Vision Australia’s David Woodbridge provides a detailed review of the app, which is able to complete multiple tasks without having to switch apps for different tasks. It can capture a printed page to read, locates bar codes and scans to identify products, identifies bank notes when paying by cash and recognises friends and their facial expressions, and even describes colour. Unfortunately it is only available for iOS devices at the moment. This is a good one to add to the list previously posted on apps for people with low vision. The Microsoft website has videos to explain the different features.

Editor’s note: Sometimes I think I could do with an app that recognises people and can tell me their name – it made me think of people with dementia or acquired brain injury. Another case of “design for one” becoming “one for all”.


Specialist guide for wheelchair housing

Front cover of the guide. Line drawings of housing using light blue, dark blue and lime greenThe latest Habinteg Wheelchair Housing Design Guide has input from several specialists at Centre for Accessible Environments and the Royal College of Occupational Therapists. It is good to see a separate guide for wheelchair users. Not all wheelchair users need the same features as their abilities vary greatly from part time users of a manual chair to those who are fully dependent on a large powered chair. And more importantly, when it comes to the concept of “accessible housing” designers tend to think only of wheelchair users when there are many other types of disability that need consideration. Wheelchair housing is not the same as universal design in housing. There are instructions on how to purchase in the UK, and you can also access a copy via Angus and Robertson.

“The clear explanations and the reasoning behind the technical standards will help practitioners gain a better understanding of how to maximise the independence of residents – and will be particularly useful to those who wish to go beyond basic minimum standards and help create inclusive and cohesive communities”

Habinteg’s mission is to champion inclusion by providing and promoting accessible homes and neighbourhoods that welcome and include everyone. We do this in three ways: providing homes and services, demonstrating our expertise and influencing decisions.  


Visiting historic buildings and places

Front cover of the guide shows a black and white close up of an older hand on a handrail.Historic buildings and places not only hold cultural heritage and national identity, people also work, live and enjoy everyday activities in these places. But how best to maintain them and make them accessible to everyone? Once again Ireland has come up with a resource to help: “Improving the accessibility of historic buildings and places”. The booklet is designed to guide those responsible for historic buildings on how best to maintain, repair and adapt their properties. The chapters provide practical advice including: improving access in and around buildings, providing accessible information, and the process of preparing to improve access. It begins with the principles of getting the balance right, universal design and architectural conservation. More information on related topics can be found on the NDA website.   


Bush-wheeling with a Sherpa guide

View of the back of a volunteer Sherpa wearing a dark green shirt and shorts pushing the special equipment in a ferny gullyParks Victoria is leading the way with their approach to making sure all visitors can enjoy the natural environment on their park trails in the Dandenong Ranges. Volunteers act as Sherpas and use specially designed equipment that provides a comfortable ride for wheelchair users. The equipment can be borrowed by family members and friends as long as they have the strength and fitness to operate it. The program is also available in the Gampians.  The short video below gives a good idea of the equipment and the user experience. There is also an article and more pictures on the ABC websiteThanks to Bill Forrester’s blog for this one.



23 ways to benefit with UD

A modern kitchen with a bowl of fruit in the foreground and a stove and microwave in the backgroundAdaptive Environments is a Canadian website with design ideas. Good design means functionality while remaining nearly invisible. This is one of the difficulties of showcasing universal design – it is not always obvious until it is pointed out. It is more obvious when something is poorly designed. It is about being thoughtful in the design process. The kitchen and bathroom get good attention with great tips in this article on the Adaptive Environments webpage – 23 Ways you can benefit from universal design. There are lots of nice pictures too.