HostGPO member and founder and CEO of Becoming RentABLE, Lorraine Woodward, is redefining the way we think about short term rentals. She and two of her immediate family members face mobility constraints due to muscular dystrophy, so she has made it her mission to ensure that everyone has a chance to rent unique accessible vacation rentals regardless of their physical abilities.
On their website, Becoming RentABLE gives a clear definition of what a truly accessible property entails: “To have an accessible property means that there are no barriers to entry for anyone; an elderly relative, a family member with a physical disability or a friend who has been temporarily disabled.”
Prospective guests can search a database of already certified properties, and they can filter for specific features based on the group’s needs, such as 36” door width, bathrooms with elevated lifts/toilets, hard surface driveways, shower benches, adjustable beds, wheel under sinks, front-loading washers/dryers, and zero threshold doors.
Installing a wheelchair ramp is a fantastic way to make your rental more accessible, but accessibility goes well beyond getting into the front door. For example, sinks with space underneath for wheelchairs, stoves, and wheel-in showers make vacations for someone in a wheelchair much more convenient. Even lowering the hanging racks in closets goes a long way.
There’s also opportunities to accommodate people with other disabilities. People with muscular dystrophy, for example, often have extreme muscle fatigue and weakness, making it difficult to lift certain everyday objects, like a glass serving bowl or a large coffee mug. With this in mind, something as simple as providing plastic bowls and to-go paper coffee cups can make your short term rental that much more accessible to everyone.
In Becoming RentABLE’s latest project, Little Yellow House, the industry’s first fully accessible home, designers painted the light switch and outlet wall plates blue for people with vision impairments to see them better against a white wall. They’ve also installed them lower on the wall for wheelchair ease of access.
Beyond the amazing work at Becoming RentABLE, industry leaders are recognizing the need for making living and vacation spaces more accessible to all. Pottery Barn recently debuted 150 pieces of furniture for people with disabilities, which can be accessed by clicking on “Accessible Home” on their main webpage.
With Lorraine’s assistance and expertise, we’ve put together a short list of items from our HostGPO vendors that will help make your rental enjoyable and accessible for all travelers and adventure seekers. These items are a great step in the right direction for opening your short term rental doors to everyone. (Stay tuned for a more exhaustive list in the future!)
- Tompkins Industrial Dining Table – This popular item is great as a wheel-under table.
- Mid-Century Bed – This bed would allow a Hoyer lift to slide under. A Hoyer lift is a mobility tool to help seniors get in and out of bed without the help of someone else.
- Breville Fresh and Furious Blender – This item is important for renters who need to blend food for family members with a feeding tube or special diets.
- Child safety locks on exit doors (deadbolt locks, sliding locks or flip locks) – important for family members with autism.
- Night lights in bedrooms, hallways, and bathrooms – important for family members with autism.
- Ceiling Fans – important for individuals on the autism spectrum as well as our age in community
- Switch plate contrasting with wall color – important for people with visual impairments
- Dimmer – this item is important for people with visual impairments, as well as individuals that are on the autism spectrum that have a sensitivity to light
Pottery Barn Teen/Kids
- Gaming chairs – ideal for someone on the autism spectrum or a family member with Intellectual or Developmental Disabilities (IDD)
- Weighted blanket / throw – ideal for someone on the autism spectrum or a family member with IDD
- Lavender Essential Oil – ideal for someone on the autism spectrum
- Wool Dryer Balls – ideal for our aging community and for someone on the autism spectrum or a family member with IDD who response to tactile issues
- Laundry Detergent – fragrance free, graywater-friendly, and biodegradable. Ideal for our aging community and for someone on the autism spectrum or a family member with IDD who is sensitive to smell
- Castile Soap – ideal for someone with autism or a family member who is sensitive to smell
- Centima Sheets – ideal for our aging community and for someone on the autism spectrum, or a family member with IDD with tactile sensitivities
Becoming RentABLE has a hand in certifying thousands of short term rentals across the US for wheelchairs, walkers, hearing and vision impairments, and autism/intellectual or developmental disabilities (IDD). And this is just the beginning.
Thanks to dedicated trailblazers like Lorraine and Pottery Barn, people are becoming more aware of how to better accommodate people of all abilities, and the travel industry is becoming a more inclusive space.