As lots of you are probably aware, I love to travel! I’ve been really fortunate to be able to travel to some amazing places such as Japan, Spain, the Austrian mountains, Australia and the USA. And along the way I’ve had some awesome adventures; hot air ballooning in Catalonia, scuba diving in Tenerife travelling from John O’Groats to Land’s End in my wheelchair and volunteering in Spain. So it’s safe to say that I have some experience in managing the logistics of travel in a wheelchair, and it’s not always easy.
First, where shall we go? Can I get there, can my chair get there? Will I be able to hire the equipment I need? Will I be able to explore the local area? Is there medical care should I need it? And will the accommodation be what it says on the tin? I’ve had my fair share of travel challenges including a damaged wheelchair, broken hoists and chargers; and once turning up to a holiday villa that supposedly was step free but actually had a giant step at the entrance! And it’s safe to say that Srin, my partner in crime at Disability Horizons, can double the size of the travel list, and consequentially, the mishaps list. Sometimes we’re lucky enough to travel together as well and as self-professed entrepreneurs we’ve discussed the highs and lows, and solutions to our accessible travel problems.
One of the problems we’ve had, and I’m sure we’re not alone, is finding clear and useful information about the accessibility of accommodation. Even big hotel brands can’t describe their accessibility very well, and often the smaller accommodation providers are better at this if they’ve decided to particularly cater for access needs. They also forget that we may need to hire equipment, bring equipment and explore the local area whilst we’re there so we will need to find out how easy and possible this all is before we decide to travel.
So, say hello to our most recent brainchild Accomable. Srin actually learnt to code websites and this initial version is his own handiwork. The plan for Accomable is to be an online advertising and hopefully soon, a booking platform, for accessible accommodation all over the world. We launched Accomable in April and so it is early days for all of the plans we have in store, but we hope to address the issues that we’ve both personally experienced in the past. It will provide clear and detailed accessibility information about each property, information about other accessible travel resources, accessibility information about the area the property is in and the facilities available, create a rating and feedback system and eventually provide the ability to book accommodation quickly and simply.
We’ve been so fortunate so far and have had generous help from the Skoll Foundation, based in Silicon Valley, and Oxford University through an initiative to provide funding to tech start-ups that could have sizeable social impact. We’ve had great support from our advisor Tim Jackson, who is one of the UK’s leading technology investors, and Ruth Marvell, who is the Director of Innovation at Scope. We’re really pleased with the initial positive feedback that we’ve had since the launch and are exciting about the growing network of accommodation that’s being listed on the site!
So if you’re looking for somewhere to stay, or you have an accessible property or room that you want to list them head over to Accomable to check it out. There are plenty of properties for you to take a look at, and let us know what you think. And keep an eye out for a new design launching soon!
If you’re interested in getting in touch about Accomable email shona[at]disabilityhorizons.com.