The PEAT team recently participated in the ITIF Policy Forum and the inaugural XRA Limitless Futures conference. At these events, we shared thought leadership and resources surrounding inclusive extended reality (XR) in the workplace. While there are many areas to pay attention to when it comes to inclusive XR, three key takeaways stand out.
Takeaway 1: We Can Use XR for Equity, Advancement and Opportunity
XR technologies create new avenues of economic opportunity while giving workers from all backgrounds the chance to strengthen in-demand skills. A notable example of this is personalized employment. Personalized employment is a growing area that helps match people with disabilities to jobs that align with their interests and skills.
In personalized employment, XR technologies produce immersive job shadowing experiences and task simulations. These immersive experiences show participants new ways they can contribute to the workforce. The use of XR technologies in personalized employment can expand career opportunities beyond what is available in a candidate’s geographical area. The result will be a workforce filled with job candidates who have unique skillsets and abilities distributed across the country.
Takeaway 2: We Should Focus on Creating Inclusive Content
The content that currently exists in the virtual world is inaccessible for many users. For example, a job simulation experience within a virtual reality headset may not include immersive captioning or the ability to go through the experience in a seated position instead of standing. Organizations that want to build immersive content or hire third-party companies to craft these experiences must consider how they may inadvertently exclude people with disabilities.
We should not underestimate the value of inclusive design in immersive experiences. Soon, XR technologies will have a place in nearly every industry. This means that it is important to ensure XR tools and the content within them are built for everyone, including people with disabilities. Together, we can create a more accessible immersive world that brings the workforce together in ways that we can only begin to imagine right now.
Takeaway 3: We Should Value Progress Over Perfection
A growing number of communities worldwide are dedicated to advancing accessibility within XR. Getting involved in community initiatives such as XR Access, the XR Association, the XR Collaboration IEEE Ethics of XR and the Cyber XR Coalition is a great way to learn from industry experts and understand the current challenges faced in the quest for equitable XR. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to accessibility, and it is essential to lead with the notion that progress is better than perfection.
Tools powered by XR can help people with disabilities succeed by letting them experience environments, learn skills and participate in workplaces in new ways. As employers look to close the skills gap across fast-growing industries, the use of XR technologies should be carefully considered at all stages of employment to avoid excluding people with disabilities. While XR can benefit employers and employees alike, it is essential to remember that these technologies must be accessible for all – not just a select few.
Below are some resources to help you learn about accessible XR and how to use it in your workplace.