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Study finds Airbnb hosts more prone to reject people with disabilities

A Rutgers University study found that those with disabilities are more likely to be denied accommodation on the sharing site.

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A new study by Rutgers University has found that travelers with disabilities using the travel hosting service Airbnb are more likely to be rejected and less likely to be preapproved.

The study, published in May, was conducted by a team of researchers and volunteers who created 25 user accounts. Through those accounts, they requested nearly 4,000 Airbnb stays in the 48 continental US states. They then self-disclosed either one of four disabilities (blindness, cerebral palsy, dwarfism or spinal cord injury) or no disability at all.

They found that the preapproval rate for someone without a disability was 75 percent, but for someone with a spinal cord injury was only 25 percent. Meanwhile, the rate of being outright rejected by hosts occurred 17 percent in profiles that had no disability compared to 60 percent of those with a spinal cord injury.

Rutgers School of Management and Labor Relations

"Airbnb should take extra steps to educate hosts, ensure host compliance and partner with disability organizations to ensure that the needs of travelers with disabilities are well reflected in their policies," said one of the researchers in the study, Mason Ameri, in an email to CNET.

In response, Airbnb said it finds any kind of discrimination on its platform abhorrent. In a statement, Airbnb said that the company "continues to work with a range of partners, including the California Council of the Blind and the California Foundation for Independent Living Centers, to develop host education tools and make it easy for any person to find a listing on our platform that meets their needs." 

This isn't the first time Airbnb hosts were found to have biases against certain travelers. Last year, a study from the Harvard Business School found that having a "distinctively African-American name" resulted in a 16 percent less likely chance of being accepted by an Airbnb host. In response, the company introduced a new nondiscrimination policy.