Disability Accessibility and Inclusion in hosting--home and community

Hi, friends. I both live and work in the realm of accessibility and inclusion, and frequently think about how we create spaces that are accessible and inclusive from a multitude of perspectives: I am wondering how you as owners and sitters have approached this in your profiles, in your strategies for applying for/accepting sits, setting up your lodging, etc.

I would like THIS post to focus on access and inclusion for people with disabilities and NOT about other diverse identities.

I am a person with three disabilities, am left-handed, and “vertically challenged” at 5’2". My husband is in the not-yet-disabled category, right-handed, and 6’2". We often wonder who decided where shower heads are placed, who decided that plates and wine glasses should be stored in high (or low) cabinets, and whether we should re-do our great room so it is at the same height as our entry and dining room (our house is not accessible for people who use wheel chairs). Some of our door knobs are still traditional; some meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) guidelines. For sure our doorways do not meet ADA guidelines for wheelchair accessibility, and every entrance to our house has steps. We are looking into remodeling some parts of our house to reduce barriers to accessibility, including having one shower having a barrier-free entry and widening doorways for our family members and friends who use walkers.

What are you doing to address this? What has been a great example of accessibility? What small changes would you love to add to make your stay more accessible/inclusive? What questions do you have that I haven’t added?

I appreciate that THS has a question about whether a house is suitable for someone with restricted mobility. I wonder what else they could include in the listing questions to help guide sitters in developing their profile and listing?

Thanks, and I look forward to learning from all of you!

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Thank you @ThreeLittleBirds for bringing this topic to the forum. I must disagree with you about 5’ 2" being a disability though. I’m sure those lower shelves are far easier for us to reach than for most who are 6’ 2". :rofl: I think we all have limitations, and those limitations can vary and fluctuate significantly from time to time - they’re not always constant or consistent.

Currently when I look at sits I aim to limit the need to use stairs multiple times a day. I can do them, but they can tend to cause hip pain for me at times (no more details needed, and not particularly interesting either). For that reason, I focus on bungalows and apartments when looking for sits.

Recently I was invited to do a sit in a bungalow. We first chatted by phone and I learned that these two indoor-only cats really had the lower basement level of this lovely home as their personal playground, including bed, ‘bathroom’, food, and water. It then became a two-storey building for me. I explained this to the owner and said I didn’t think I was a suitable fit. They offered to move the food, water, and litter robot to the laundry room on the main floor. An excellent accommodation idea. It’s not that I can’t do the stairs, but it reduced the need. I’m booked and we’re all happy. :slightly_smiling_face:

I was recently invited to do a repeat sit for another owner. I mentioned that their guest room bed was too firm for me and so we would need to perhaps arrange for a cushion from their sun lounger to be added beneath the sheets. However, they offered for me to use their bed instead as it had adjustable settings for firmness. Although I prefer not to use an owner’s bed, again, they were accommodating and I appreciated that.


Where I am staying right now, their bed is WAY too soft. I’m sleeping on one “arm” of their huge L-shaped sofa (I travel with a faux silk sleep-sack) and their dog is sleeping on the other arm. It’s great!


That’s a great set of questions @ThreeLittleBirds!

As both a sitter and HO who does not (fortunately/yet) have physical ability challenges, I think it would be helpful to hear from you as to what a HO can proactively and respectfully do to explore this topic. It has never actually crossed my mind that someone wanting to care for our 70 pound dog would have physical challenges at a level that would need to be understood or accommodated, but that can certainly be the case, especially where a couple is sitting!

So some specific questions you might opine on:

  1. Should a HO count on a sitter to raise their own ability issues or proactively probe on the topic?
  2. If the latter, what would you consider as a respectful way to do this?
  3. When should it first come up, in an application or interview?
  4. If - once different ability issues and levels were understood - in the event that they cannot be reasonably accommodated, should the HO or the sitter be the proper person to withdraw?

As a HO who is relatively ignorant of these circumstances, it would be helpful to have some guidance on these communication and coordination type issues. Thanks so much!

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I think this question very much depends on the disability……… personally I wouldn’t consider being 5’ tall and left handed to cause any major issues in our home, nor would being deaf or any one of a lot of other disabilities be a problem, however our home isn’t wheelchair accessible and is unlikely to be in the foreseeable future. Unfortunately we would be unwilling to do anything about this at the moment as all our sits are for less than a week. One sitter who has been to us a couple of times and is returning later this year. Is unable to walk long distances but this hasn’t been a problem. All our bedrooms are upstairs also so anyone unable to manage them would find it difficult to manage…… I think that there is a limit to how much adaptation to their home a HO should be expected to do for a couple of short sits a year…….

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