Wednesday, November 02, 2016

VR and Accessiblity

I've been wondering about accessibility issues with virtual reality (VR), especially since this seems to be the year of VR.  I've not seen any discussion or even hints at accessibility issues in VR, but clearly there are accessibility issues.  

A couple of years ago I had a discussion with a colleague about accessibility in computer gaming.  This was in conjunction with an educational program that taught students to write programs for games.  I started looking for information about accessibility in gaming.  I was introduced to the Games_access mailing list.

In a previous life I'd been working with folks at IGDA (International Game Developers Association). The Games Access folks are a Special Interest Group (SIG) of IDGA.
To subscribe or unsubscribe via the World Wide Web, visit, via email, send a message with subject or body 'help' to You can reach the person managing the list at

I've been on the list now for a couple of years and it's been informative.  There are game designers with disabilities on the list and folks working to make games more accessible.  Some of the discussions they get into are very technical and others much more fitting with my interests.

All this is by way of introducing you to a very interesting blog post by Ian Hamilton about VR and Accessibility on Gamasutra.

It's long and detailed and raises accessibility issues beyond the more commonly identified issues. If you're interested in accessibility issues and VR this is a great read.  It begins:

Virtual reality brings some fantastic opportunities for people with disabilities. New experiences, therapeutic benefits, even accessibility for people who have better head control than hand control. But it also brings considerable new barriers, with great potential to lock people out from these benefits.
Some of the barriers that VR presents are unavoidable, there are people who will simply never be able to take part in VR as it currently exists. From the people who will never be able to overcome simulation sickness, to people who simply aren’t physically able to have a bulky device on their head.
But other barriers are avoidable, through the right design considerations - through accessibility.
It is still early days for this iteration of VR, so this post doesn’t aim to provide all of the answers or form a concrete set of guidelines. There will be issues that are not covered here, and still there’s huge room for innovation, discovering new and better design patterns. 
continue reading this post at:

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