Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technologies (collectively called XR) have advanced in the last decade, but some developers have overlooked accessibility in their designs. XR Association (XRA) worked with members of XR Access, including people with disabilities, to address this challenge.
They published a new chapter in the XRA Developers Guide, “Accessibility & Inclusive Design in Immersive Experiences.” It includes a set of industry-backed practices for creating accessible XR, including:
- Providing comparable experiences for people with and without disabilities.
- Giving users control over their experience with options for completing tasks and changing the XR environment to meet their accessibility needs.
- Getting input from people with disabilities during the development and testing phases of XR design.
Key recommendations for XR developers include:
- General accessibility. Cut down on distractions and include features to support users across disability types.
- Visual accessibility. Support text and font adjustments, brightness and contrast, zoom functions, and more.
- Auditory disabilities. Support captions for audio (visible for 360˚movement) and provide options for sign language.
- Mobility disabilities. Provide help with tasks, limit required body movements, and support options such as controller-free hand tracking.
- Cognitive disabilities. Provide help with on-boarding and orientation and allow users to hide distracting content or features.
These technologies, though not yet the norm, are likely to be more common in the workplace of the future. According to a recent study by XR Association, 75% of respondents had heard of the term “XR technology.” Respondents also predicted a significant increase in spending on XR in the next five years. These industries included manufacturing (80%), healthcare (75%), education (74%), and public safety (70%).
This guidance is just one example of how the XR industry is beginning to elevate the importance of inclusive design and accessibility. Major platforms are starting to offer more specific guidance for their designers and developers. For example, Oculus recently released a set of recommendations to help developers create accessible VR software.
As momentum builds, PEAT and XR Access will continue to collaborate to help define what it means for XR to be accessible. By doing so, we will help ensure everyone can take part in current and future workplaces.
- Learn how you can take part in XR Access, a PEAT supported community focused on making XR accessible to people with disabilities.