Accomable is an Airbnb-like website which lists disability-accessible properties. It has already started making travel much easier for people with mobility issues and special needs.

The service finds accessible properties around the world. Its simple mission, according to the website, is “to enable anyone to go anywhere.

The founders of the service, Srin Madipalli and Martyn Sibley, both have spinal muscular atrophy and use motorized wheelchairs. The pair, who met as children at a SMA support group, created Accomable after discovering the need for it firsthand — they’re avid world-travelers.

They created the site so all accessible properties can be listed in one place, including detailed information about the property and available services.

See an example of an Accomable listing below:

Accomable, which was launched in June 2015, was given some support early on from the Skoll Foundation, a charity founded by Jeffrey Skoll, eBay’s first president, which supports start-ups with a social purpose. Madipalli, a former London lawyer, did the coding for the website himself.

The site hopes to make life easier for all people with disabilities and mobility issues, including the elderly. The service is also seeking to eventually involve accessible car hire companies, medical equipment hire companies and disability insurance providers, all on one platform, CNN reported.

Sibley has recently left the venture, but Madipalli is now talking with investment syndicates about further funding.

“What we’re trying to do is create the same experience for a disabled person booking travel, as an everyday person would have,” Madipalli told CNN. “For some people that may be this mind-blowing effect, for others it might just be the chance to put their feet up under the sun.”

Mary Evelyn Smith, a Mighty contributor and school librarian from Columbus, Ohio, has a a son who uses a wheelchair, and is excited by Accomable. Smith told The Mighty finding accessible places to stay can be tricky. Simeon, 3, has spina bifida and uses a manual wheelchair so the Smith family normally opts for hotels to ensure accessibility. But, Smith says it would be nice to have the option of staying in a bed and breakfast or a condo.

Smith also believes a helpful feature of the site will be its clear definition of what “accessible” means, which she says is often misinterpreted by renters. She recalls an incident once where her family booked an “accessible” beach house, only to show up and find several stairs leading to the elevator.

“Since my son is still young and small enough to be carried if needed, travel isn’t a huge issue just yet, but looking to the future I know it will be a concern,” Smith told The Mighty. “Even at this young age, my son shouldn’t have to sacrifice his independence to experience the joy of travel.”

“I want my son to be able to explore his world and travel as much as he’d like and I want him to be able to do that independently,” she added. “This is a great step towards making that possible.”


When we asked special education teachers to share a secret they wish the rest of the world knew, the vast majority responded by sharing how much they love their jobs:

“My job isn’t ‘sad.’”

“It is the best job in the world.”

“I wake up every day with a smile.”

After reading such beautiful responses, we had to know more. We asked the special education teachers in our Facebook community to describe what they love the most about their jobs. Their answers are sure to put a smile on your face, too.

1. “The bond we make with our students is incredible.” — Lexie Nooyen

2. “When your student has that ‘aha!’ moment, no matter how small it is, it’s a reason to celebrate.” — Mandy Ree


3. “I love making them laugh, and they make me laugh every day no matter what challenges we all are facing.” — Becky Mahan

4. “The best part of my job is all of it. I love the meaningful relationships I build with the families, the amazing team I have that helps me grow as an educator, the trust I build with my students and the magic I feel when students smile, work collaboratively and believe in themselves.” — Nadia Sinno

5. “I love it when we are working towards a goal and I get to see the student be successful in it. Makes the hard times so worthwhile.” — Sue Stewart

6. “The eight little faces that trust me with their futures every day!” — Denise Ertl Hansen

7. “Watching a child learn to advocate for themselves. And the dance parties, definitely the daily dance parties!” — Emily Gusset


8. “My students have taught me more (and continue to teach me more) than any of the universities I have attended.” — Cissy Harland Carter

9. “When something finally ‘clicks’ and my student is finally able to perform that skill we’ve been working on for months.” — Jennifer Honeycutt

10. “Arriving every day to a job I love and look forward to.” — Lisa Harris

11. “One word: pride. Pride in the little things, the big things and everything in between.” — Bailey Sonday

12. “The long-lasting relationships I’ve developed with awesome parents and their children! You’ve all made me a better person, and I’m blessed to be a part of your lives. I’m grateful for you!” — Kori LaDe Thomas


If you’re a special education teacher, what would you add to this list? Share your response in the comment section below.

Editor’s note: Some answers have been shortened for brevity/clarity.

Related story: 24 Secrets of Special Education Teachers

I recently wrote a story for The Mighty: “To the Special Needs Parents Who Worry About Their Kids In School.” I told parents not to worry, that their kids would be well looked after. I promised their educators would help them thrive. I wrote it to ease the anxiety felt by so many parents whose children were starting school soon. I was surprised and horrified as I began receiving comments describing the negative experiences some parents had in regards to their children and schooling.

I am part of a wonderful team of special education teachers who go above and beyond to do what is best for the students we teach. It angered me to hear that not all educators are dedicated to providing a safe, supportive and engaging learning environment for their students. And it saddened me that perhaps I had made some empty promises to some worried parents.

At the time of writing this, it is the beginning of the summer school holidays here in Australia. I should be enjoying time with my children, going to the beach and excitedly preparing for Christmas. But instead, I have spent the past week fighting for my own child with special needs to receive additional support in the school environment. Right at this moment, I’m feeling shattered. Although I know most educators are passionate, dedicated and have adequate knowledge in regards to children with special needs, it is becoming obvious that this is not always the case.

I have heard of children being denied access to education because of their differences. I have seen children being misunderstood because their educator does not have adequate knowledge of their needs. I have read various horror stories in the news recently about the treatment of students with special needs and schools not having the resources for our children to access the curriculum. This is not OK! We need to break down the barriers so that all children have equal access to an education.

To all the educators out there: Please take the time to get to know the children you teach. Do your best to make the learning environment safe, inclusive and supportive for them. Parents don’t expect perfection; they just need to see you are doing your best to make their child’s education enjoyable, achievable and meaningful. Some of the best teachers my son has had have openly admitted they have little knowledge of autism. But they sat in on therapy sessions, did their research and listened to my concerns and suggestions. This meant more to me as a parent than words can describe.

Most importantly, communicate with parents. An open and honest home-school relationship is crucial for many reasons. Take on board any feedback or suggestions given by parents, doctors and therapists. Use it to better yourself as an educator.

To the parents who have children with additional needs: Fight for them! Be their advocate! Know your child’s rights and make sure they are being met. You know your child better than anyone. Make yourself heard. Your child deserves an education as much as any other. Value the educators who strive to give your child the best education possible and advocate for your child when their educator isn’t providing them with an adequate learning environment.

Most of the time your children will be well looked after in the school environment. Most of the time your child’s educators will go above and beyond to help them thrive. But unfortunately there will be instances where this won’t be the case. Hopefully in time, these instances will become fewer and fewer, and all children will receive what they need most from their schooling. Respect. Understanding. Inclusion. Acceptance. Equal access to an education.

The Mighty is asking the following: Share with us an unexpected moment with a teacher, parent or student during your (or your loved one’s) school year. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images

Just over six years ago, our son Lucas was given a diagnosis of developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH). During that time, I have spent more hours in hospital wards and waiting rooms than I care to remember. Hospital appointments have pretty much become part of our life, and while Lucas did have three clear years of treatment, there were still annual checkups and x-rays.

I have some tips for all you hospital moms that I really hope someone out there will find useful:

1. Be nice to everyone — not just the top doctors, but also the porters who wheel your child down to theater, other parents, cleaners, the nurses and others. Being nice, smiling and taking an interest in others is easy, and it also means they might want to help you and go out of their way to make your stay easier.

2. This is not easy, but try not to show your child your fear. If you need to cry or vent, walk away, go and get some fresh air, but don’t let them see your pain. They need you to be strong for them. When Lucas was bought back from theater this time, we had an hour or so when he was in extreme pain, and I wanted to stop it so much because I couldn’t bear to see him in pain. I stood away with a nurse for a couple of minutes, got myself together and then went back to his side and made sure he knew it was going to be OK — and it was.

3. Try to get a bed for your child by the window. This isn’t always possible, but if you can, it lets in daylight, and since hospital wards tend to be hot and stuffy, a little fresh air is lovely.

4. Find out where the linen cupboard is. This way you can change sheets yourself, find towels and even make up your own bed if you are lucky enough to have one.

5. Know your route to the hospital, and time it if you need to. Find where you need to go, what time you need to be on a ward and also be sure about the parking, how much there is and if you need to pay. We are lucky at the RNOH that parking is free, but this isn’t the case for everyone, so it is worth looking into.

6. Try to get some sleep if you can. Sounds hard when you are woken up every couple of hours to give your child medicine or speak with consultants, but the more rested you can be, the easier it is to deal with events that occur during your stay.

7. Take bottles of water and snacks in with you. Yes, there are shops on site, but if you are in for a while, this can get expensive and the selection isn’t always that great.

8. Take in antibacterial spray and wipes as well as hand gel. You can’t be too careful.

9. File everything. When we started out on our DDH journey, I had odd bits of paper in Lucas’s red book, but it soon became apparent this wasn’t the right solution. These days where we go, the grey file goes, and it has every document in it ever issued.

10. Don’t throw your magazines and newspapers away — pass them onto other parents and given other children on the ward comics you have finished with. Little things go a long way when you are on the inside.

11. Understand this isn’t forever. I know we were in hospital for endless weeks and months, and for that I am so grateful, and of course I don’t know what lies ahead of Lucas. Take in books and magazines, a tablet, some work, games and puzzles.

12. Use the Monkey Wellbeing resources to talk about the time in hospital and explain to your child what might happen and how they might feel.

13. Make friends with other parents. Strike up conversations. Meditate. Do what you can to make this time easier for you, your child and the rest of your family. In time, I hope things will get easier.

Mom with her two sons

Follow this journey on Just Because I Love.

The Mighty is asking the following: Create a list-style story of your choice in regards to disability, disease or illness. It can be lighthearted and funny or more serious — whatever inspires you. Be sure to include at least one intro paragraph for your list. If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

It’s a time-honored tradition: Curling up on the couch with a good movie when you’re not feeling well. For people with chronic illnesses, though, “not feeling well” is often a way of life. So they know exactly which movies will help keep your mind distracted on particularly rough days.

We asked our Mighty readers with chronic illnesses what movie they love to watch on tough days. Consider adding these to your Netflix queue.

Here’s what they told us:

1. “Kill Bill”

“Makes me feel powerful to see a woman close to my age function and move so well.” — Amber Wandmaker

2. “Guardians of the Galaxy”

“Something about a group of misfits saving the universe makes me feel better.” — Sarah Wright

3. “How To Train Your Dragon”

“Because dragons are awesome.” — Cat Latuszek

4. “Mulan”

“I figure if she could save China, I can deal with this.” — Sharon Esley Horning

5. “My Cousin Vinny”

“No matter how many times I have seen it and can recite it verbatim, it still makes me laugh.” — Jennifer Schmidt Manning

6. “Twister”

“There’s so much energy played by the characters that it’s motivating and makes me look forward to the next day or two when I know I will feel great for a little while. I know of no other way to explain it other than, for some reason, this movie gives me and my body inspiration, something to look forward to in the not too distant future.” — Sherri Paul

7. “Frozen”

“The song ‘Let It Go’ is my reminder to let go of my frustration when things don’t go the way I want.” — Hannah Mason

8. “Grease”

“The songs in this movie make me happy. Which in turn send out positive endorphins. I have fibromyalgia, and when it flairs I love anything that helps me think about something else.” — Sharon Pitt

9. “Cake”

“Jennifer Aniston portrays a chronic pain sufferer very well. When I watch that I don’t feel alone.” — Jory Pradjinski

10. “It’s A Wonderful Life”

“It makes me want to keep on pushing through the pain for myself and my family. I keep the DVD behind the TV when I need it.” — Linda Moore Mussa

11. “Harry Potter”

“I have the whole DVD set so it’s marathon time when I’m a little down or have a rough day. I think it’s a childhood thing for me, plus sometimes I feel like the odd one out of my friends (like Harry) but in different ways. But no matter what, the wizarding world is where I escape and at the end of the movie I feel a lot better!” — Alissa Patterson

12. “X-Men”

“My illness is genetic, so watching a bunch of awesome mutants makes me feel a little bit happier and more comfortable in my skin.” — Alex Kendall

13. “Rudy”

“I love seeing him hoisted into the air after putting in so much hard work and heart into being an athlete, even if he wasn’t built like one.” — Jennifer Northrup

14. “Steel Magnolias”

“Although I don’t have them same diagnosis as Shelby did in the movie, my family and I have had similar discussions as the family did in the movie. I’m a bawling mess all the way through it, but it comforts me by reminding me that my family cares and will do anything for me.” — Julie McCoy Laverack

15. “Under the Tuscan Sun”

“Because it’s a good reminder that life gets stormy at times but there will always be clear days again.” — Amanda Keehn

16. Star Wars”

“My bad days are bad after a craniectomy. This lets me focus on something besides how bad everything hurts.” — Jenafer Bauerle

17. Lord of the Rings”

“The theme that rings true in the trilogy is teamwork. They all had roles to play and in the end, being supportive of each other won the day.” — Ethan Terry

18. “The Lion King” 

“I’ve always watched it when I was a kid and not feeling well. It’s one of the reasons I have a Simba tattoo!” — Sarah Utterback

19. Mrs. Doubtfire”

“Robin Williams always makes me laugh!” — Sarah Codington

20. Jurassic World”

“I’m a firm believer that you can’t be sad while looking at Chris Pratt.” — Amanda Baldassari

21. “Cinderella Man”

“To see what love and human spirit can overcome. Great movie!” — Gayla Joe-Huckaby

22. “What About Bob?”

“It makes me laugh and get perspective — remember ‘tiny steps.'” — Amy Sue Inskeep

Do you have a favorite movie to watch when you’re having a rough day? Let us know in the comments.

Like many children, I was bullied and teased throughout my school years. I was profoundly deaf in one ear, my legs twisted in instead of out, I had severe permanent skin depigmentation on my neck, chest and stomach, and I had to wear very strong glasses. Looking back, I also had sensory issues that probably would have been identified if I were a child today. Apparently, I was “different” from all the other kids, and they made sure to tell me about it.

But my parents worked hard to make sure I never felt “different.” The things that could have been considered impediments were just part of who I was. My parents constantly encouraged me that I will always have something worthwhile to offer, no matter what anyone else says — that everyone has a special gift or talent to share with the world. They inspired me to find the things I could do, instead of focusing on the things I couldn’t do.

My parents always encouraged me in whatever activities I wanted to undertake. I had a hard time running for any distance, but baseball became my passion from a young age. I would spend hours poring over statistic books and sports magazines and watching my favorite major league team play. I had difficulty with handwriting and anything that required fine motor skills, but I excelled in spelling, eventually reaching the state spelling bee twice. My single-sided deafness made it hard to play group games on the school playground because it was too noisy to hear, but in carving out a quiet place, I was able to have meaningful conversations with kids who would later become lifelong friends.

My parents told me I was enough, over and over, day after day, even when I didn’t feel like it. They made me feel like I was enough by always encouraging me to find my strengths and offering praise when I improved in any area I struggled in, however small the gain.

Fast-forward, I’m all grown up and now the mommy of a precious little boy who is profoundly deaf in both ears and also has severe sensory processing disorder. I desperately want to give him the same gift my parents gave me, the gift of enough. I want him to feel loved, talented, confident and full of worth. Even — no, especially — when he realizes that he may be a little “different,” too.

I want to help him find the things that he will excel in, the things that will bring him a sense of accomplishment, and help him focus on those while instilling in him the courage and tenacity to try to improve in the areas where he has challenges. He has so very much to offer this world, and I never want him to forget it just because his talents may look “different” from someone else’s.

Despite any limitations that seem to stand in our way, each one of us has some unique and special gift or talent to offer, no matter what anyone else says.

girl all dressed up
Sara all dressed up.

The Mighty is asking the following: What’s one unexpected source of comfort when it comes to your (or a loved one’s) disability and/or disease? If you’d like to participate, please send a blog post to [email protected] Please include a photo for the piece, a photo of yourself and 1-2 sentence bio. Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Real People. Real Stories.

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We face disability, disease and mental illness together.