Airbnb to offer virtual Experiences for people with accessibility needs

US: Airbnb is growing out its Experiences program once again by launching 20 new virtual activities aimed at those members of its guest community who have accessibility needs.

The newly-launched 20 activities, ranging in cost from $9 to $40 per person, are not solely aimed at people who have disabilities themselves but are also aiming to educate people about improving accessibility for communities and facilitating activities for them. The activities available include “adaptive” seated yoga with a professional dancer, a wheelchair workout, mindful meditation with horses, a cooking class with a deaf teacher, audio-described cardio boxing and beginner sign language classes.

Airbnb also announced one of the activities would be free, however.

It follows the company’s announcement last month that it was set to provide “Online Experiences” as the latest extension to its platform, with the vast majority of its planned activities no longer able to take place for the duration of the global lockdown due to Covid-19. Following this, it also announced it was trialling first date experiences in partnership with dating app Bumble, in order to allow single users to continue meeting each other virtually via video chat.

This is despite claims in the Wall Street Journal that CEO and co-founder, Brian Chesky, had been pressurised to close down the program due to spiralling costs amid the ongoing pandemic and the resulting financial and economic implications it poses.

The activities were launched to coincide with Global Accessibility Awareness Day [GAAD], which is marked each year on the third Thursday in May [21 May this year]. The day focuses on growing digital access and highlighting inclusion for the one billion-plus people around the world who have disabilities or impairments which affect their daily lives.

For these accessibility Experiences, Airbnb has partnered with disability organisations and advocacy groups, such as the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation, the Royal Association for Deaf people and The Arc, to heighten awareness for the cause.