Searching for a new home can be a chore: checking bedrooms, bathrooms, car spaces and fridge space is time consuming and exhausting. But for people with disability, the search is made even more frustrating by a lack of information on the accessibility of the properties they’re looking at.

But a new partnership between Spinal Life Australia and REA Group aims to simplify the search, with the addition of new accessibility filters on

Ross Duncan, Executive Manager Member Services at Spinal Life Australia, said the new filters are the result of many discussions between the two organisations about the challenges facing people with disability during the property search.

“When you’re living with a disability, particularly mobility impairment, you have to search through the same properties that everyone else is searching through, but with not as high a quality of information that is relevant to you personally,” he explained.

Spinal Life Australia held two focus groups of people with disability and to discuss what sort of information would be of use to include in the filters. The tools are currently based on keywords that are part of the property’s listing, and include things like whether a property has wide doorways, a step-free entry, grab rails in bathrooms or an elevator. They’re intended to highlight information to help buyers make informed decisions.

Duncan said the filters are “a significant step forward for the real estate industry” that would benefit not just people with disability, but also the elderly and anyone with different access needs.

He hopes that REA Group’s move will influence other parts of the industry to take a more inclusive approach too.

The next steps will be to continue improving the accuracy of the filters themselves, while also educating vendors, landlords and real estate agents on what accessibility is.

“We believe accessible housing is a right and not a privilege. 4.4 million Australians are living with a disability, so… trying to filter by keywords is great, but that relies on agents using those keywords and the owners saying to agents it’s important to add these keywords to enable people with accessibility needs to be able to find my property better,” Duncan said.

Spinal Life Australia is now advocating for questions about a property’s accessibility to be included in the initial vendor process, so that when a vendor decides to sell their property, they are asked about accessibility features as part of the routine listing process along with providing information on things like the number of bedrooms or bathrooms.

Duncan said he hopes to see a world where all Australians have the same buying or renting experience, regardless of their ability or age.

“Everyone has to live somewhere and people with disability find it difficult, and it shouldn’t be as difficult as it is to find somewhere that’s suitable.”

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