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TechRadar: Making virtual reality more accessible

I was recently interviewed for TechRadar about the state of accessibility in virtual reality technology. You can read the full article here:

How tech is making virtual reality more accessible

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When we think of VR experiences, most of us will probably imagine things like climbing Everest or flying through space. But Shannon Garcia, a communication designer specialising in design for neurodiversity, explains that rather more prosaic experiences have the potential to change lives.

“If you have mobility issues, traveling to a friend’s hometown might have been too difficult, especially somewhere that’s logistically complicated,” she says. “Google Earth VR lets people travel and experience that spatial presence together in a way that makes it so much more accessible than a physical trip would ever be.”

She adds “for someone who has issues with social anxiety, or has difficulty navigating crowded areas, a VR-accessible concert or sports event could introduce a lot of opportunities that you and I take for granted, because we can physically participate in them”.

Shannon Garcia told us that there are many barriers to entry for people with disability, including cost. “Unfortunately price will always be a barrier to widespread adoption of more sophisticated accessibility options,” she says.

“As VR-capable devices become more affordable, this will be less of a barrier. Projects developed for mobile-centric platforms like Daydream are going to play a big role, even if they’re lower visual quality, simply because more disabled people will have access to them.”

Garcia explains: “The ultimate success of VR social environments as accessible public spaces is going to be be highly dependent on the degree to which developers take responsibility for shaping the culture and ethics of the shared spaces they create.”

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Becca Caddy has authored a number of articles on social aspects of virtual reality, particularly:

You can find more of her writing on tech, VR, Quantified Self, and related topics at beccacaddy.com.

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