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Airbnb launches virtual experiences designed for neurodiverse guests

Experiences include virtual activities such as an inclusive skateboarding lessons to visiting a herd of therapy llamas

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Thursday 01 April 2021 16:49 BST
Airbnb launches online experiences for neurodiverse individuals
Airbnb launches online experiences for neurodiverse individuals (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
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Airbnb has introduced a new initiative to make virtual travel more inclusive, with the company revealing a collection of online experiences designed for neurodiverse guests.

According to the vacation rental company, the “isolation and disruptions to regular routines caused by the pandemic has impacted many members of the neurodiverse community,” so it has worked with experts to design 12 new online experiences specifically with “neurodiverse guests in mind”.

Neurodiversity refers to variations in the ways the brain functions, learns and processes information, with the platform noting that it includes “individuals with autism, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorders, among others”.

As stated by Airbnb, the hope is that the online experiences, which include activities such as an inclusive skateboarding lesson, meditation to help manage anxiety, or a California-inspired painting lesson will “help guests become more comfortable with a new activity or use them to connect with loved ones”.

The new collection of activities also includes options such as an inclusive football lesson, the option to visit a herd of therapy llamas in Portland, Oregon, and interactive music lessons, such as a sing-a-long experience on a Ukulele in Australia.

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“Catering to a variety of individual tastes, requirements and ages, [the experiences] provide a way for friends and family to connect from afar whether joining the same session, or through private bookings,” Airbnb explained in a blog post, adding that the experiences “provide a way to learn new skills, connect with others, and travel the world from home”.

Individuals interested in the inclusive experiences can receive $15 off their first booking through 1 May by entering the code EXPLORE at checkout, according to Airbnb, which also notes that many of the experiences are Social Impact, meaning all of the proceeds will go to a non-profit.

Airbnb is also providing coupon codes to organisations that support the neurodiverse community such as SeeAbility, The Tower Project, The Institute for Effective Education and Disability Sports Coach.

“We are excited to offer Online Experiences designed by hosts with neurodiverse guests in mind. Our hope is these activities will help guests become more comfortable with a new activity or use them to connect with loved ones,” Suzanne Edwards, Airbnb head of hosting accessibility standards, said. “Airbnb is committed to improving accessibility across our platform and we continue working toward our goal of making Experiences as inclusive of as many needs as possible.”

Airbnb’s dedication to being more inclusive comes as other companies have also made a push to cater to neurodiverse individuals. Last year, Vans released a sensory-inclusive shoe designed specifically with people with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in mind in April, which is Autism Awareness Month. Target has also designed Halloween costumes specifically for children with unique sensory needs.

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