Accessibility in a Virtual World Before Oculus

Image Description: Two light-haired, white female avatars of Gentle Heron with long hair and Eme Capalini with hair pulled back and the A11yVR logo

Accessible virtual worlds existed before virtual reality (VR) headsets. Virtual Ability has been designing accessible virtual world spaces for over 15 years. The team at Virtual Ability offers a tour of a mature virtual world environment that highlights accessibility details of the build.

VR headsets aren’t for everyone. Other rich environments with a lower level of technology and welcoming communities are necessary to be fully inclusive. The Virtual Ability community in Second Life has facilitated the entry into virtual worlds of people with a wide range of accessibility needs since 2007.

In this talk, Alice Krueger (Gentle Heron in Second Life) and Ann Ludwig (Eme Capalini in Second Life) explain the accessibility of the new Resident Orientation Course and Sojourner Auditorium on Second Life’s Virtual Ability island. They also cover the platform tools and the design principles that lead to an accessible virtual environment.

Watch the captioned video to gain an understanding of tried-and-true accessibility strategies that can be adapted for use in VR.

The presentation includes the following:

  • Introduction to Second Life and the Virtual Ability community.
  • Design process for accessibility.
  • Tour Virtual Ability island.
  • Universal design on the New Resident Orientation Course.
  • Accessibility in the Sojourner Auditorium: visible, invisible, and human factors.

Resources

Highlights

Bios

Alice Krueger (Gentle Heron in Second Life) founded the Virtual Ability community in Second Life and is president of the supporting non-profit Virtual Ability, Inc. A former science educator, special education teacher, and education researcher, Alice is now a disability advocate and peer support promoter.

She has a particular interest in involving people with disabilities in research that will ultimately affect them and ensure that research results are accessible. No longer employed as an academic researcher due to her disability, Alice continues to publish in professional journals.

Ann Ludwig (Eme Capalini in Second Life) is Vice President of Development for Virtual Ability, Inc. An award-winning designer of virtual world environments, she has designed and implemented numerous virtual builds for commercial, educational, and governmental clients.

Ann specializes in creating virtual world experiences for people with disabilities. She has co-authored several academic papers. Ann has a business degree and her background includes working in marketing and advertising.

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