Is Virtual Reality Accessible?

People Using Virtual Reality at a Museum

When most people think of virtual reality (VR), they think of video games. And it’s true that this is still the primary use case being sold by the industry. But the future of VR extends far beyond entertainment. VR and AR (Augmented Reality) are already being adapted in educational and business settings. And as the technology becomes more capable and less cost prohibitive, these use cases will become even more attractive for these applications.

In the business world, virtual reality can allow for remote collaboration and problem solving in a distraction free virtual workspace. For education, virtual reality can offer immersive and powerful learning experiences that help users quickly integrate information and connect with topics on a much deeper level than traditional media can facilitate. The implications for productivity in both of these areas are huge.

That is… If the industry can clear one enormous hurdle. And that hurdle is accessibility. The experience of virtual reality is created by receiving information through all of the senses. And many experiences aren’t yet accounting for users who need additional considerations to be made for any given sense.

What’s Being Done To Make Virtual Reality Accessible?

Microsoft has released a research tool kit to help developers create more accessible experiences for low vision users.  They also developed a piece of hardware called the Canetroller which allows low vision users to navigate virtual reality using haptic and audio cues.

Virtual reality has a long way to go before it becomes mainstream. And part of the reason for that is, simply put, you need to experience it to really understand it. So before it can move forward, developers need to find a way to make sure everyone can experience it.

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