Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Should Craigslist Ads Show the Wheelchair Logo?

A wheelchair user known as Altaira has been petitioning Craigslist to add a wheelchair logo to its housing ad system for years...

"[E]veryone knows finding a new place to live is tough. Now imagine you use a wheelchair. Even tougher, right?

Most online accommodation sites like Airbnb, Couchsurfing, etc. have an option for letting people know that you can accommodate a wheelchair. I first brought up this point to Craigslist in 2007, and they said that they were considering adding this option. It's been 6 years, come on, guys!

I want Craigslist to add an option to their housing posts where people listing housing can indicate that it might suit a wheelchair user. This comes directly from experiences house hunting in the Bay Area last year, in which I sometimes looked at 15 places a day, without finding a single accessible space. It literally took me months, and a lot of tears, to find something, at which point I was no longer interested in living there. I know this affects a lot of us, so pass it on!"

I've never personally looked for a room, flat, or house on Craigslist. I have looked for renters on Craigslist. And I'll say this: one reason why some people may be glad the housing ad system doesn't require them to classify houses as accessible or non-accessible is that, until you've tested it, you don't necessarily know. I knew from the first day that the house I shared with my husband in Maryland had been built for small and agile people, probably designed by a short man with a grievance; we called it "funny," "quirky," and "cute" but we knew a tall person wouldn't have enjoyed living there, let alone a fat one, and forget about wheelchair dwellers. I've seen houses where wheelchair access was built in so unobtrusively that people didn't realize the houses were quite accessible, and I've seen single-storey houses that looked so spacious and simple that people assumed the houses were accessible when they weren't. If you are a property owner who's not done this yet, it's worth testing exactly how wheelchair-accessible your house is.

Next step: if it's not accessible, fix it now. A leg injury is enough of a nuisance if your home is still accessible.

If you know your property is wheelchair-accessible, the system provides room for you to list that among all the other reasons why people would want to buy or rent it...and if you remember to type in that it is accessible, you may get twice as many calls.

But why hasn't Craig added the wheelchair access logo, or a wheelchair access question space, to the "housing for rent" screen? Apparently he's waiting for five thousand people to tell him he needs to do this. According to change.org, about 4400 people have already signed Altaira's petition. Do they need you to make five thousand? Click here: