An interesting article published this week discusses how the metaverse could change the lives of people with disabilities.
From online banking to shopping and communication, the internet has brought about so many life-changing tools for everyone who can access it. Many of these tools have vastly improved the daily lives of people with disabilities and other health issues, both mental and physical.
Researchers working with Facebook (Meta) have been investigating the potential of the metaverse to introduce life-changing benefits for people with disabilities, as well as developing solutions to improve its accessibility and inclusivity.
The metaverse – the next phase of the internet powered by virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) – has the potential to take things even further. If you don’t already know what the metaverse is, you can find out more about it here.
The article discusses how the metaverse could benefit many aspects of people’s lives, including:
- Social Life
- Entertainment and Leisure
- Healthcare and Wellbeing
The article notes that the metaverse is not meant to replace real life experiences in the physical world, but rather offer new options. However, for its full potential to be achieved, the metaverse must be built to be accessible and inclusive across the spectrum of ability and age.
It also discusses the concept of virtual mobility, which is a term that has long been used to describe how technology can provide an accessible alternative to activities that would usually require physical mobility.
Virtual mobility gained a lot of traction during the pandemic, because work, entertainment and socialising efficiently moved online, with many people unable to leave their homes.
The potential of the metaverse and virtual reality could greatly improve people’s lives, and Immersive Reality spaces enhance these opportunities further. This is because virtual spaces can be accessed in a more inclusive way in immersive spaces.
Unlike traditional VR headsets or 2D screens, which offer a singular experience, immersive spaces allow people to navigate virtual spaces together, creating a shared experience. This is particularly beneficial for those with disabilities or special educational needs, who may find it difficult to wear a headset, or may need a carer to help them.
Immersive spaces provide people from all backgrounds with incredible experiences. Users can learn about the world around them in a safe and controlled environment, making them particularly useful in educational settings.
The environments simulate a person’s physical presence, and can help those with disabilities expand their knowledge and skills in ways that wouldn’t otherwise be possible. This allows them to engage in activities relatively free from the limitations imposed by their disability.
Experts believe that immersive technology has great potential in changing the educational landscape in the decades to come. (Zheng, 2020) If immersive technologies continue to grow in popularity, it will make a huge difference to the world, making important contributions to the way that those with disabilities, as well as special educational needs, feel presented.
For more detail about how Immersive Reality spaces enhance the lives of people with special educational needs and disabilities, read our guest blog article here.
To find out more, read the full metaverse article here.
Zheng, R. Z. (2020) Cognitive and Affective Perspectives on Immersive Technology in Education. The University of Utah, United States.
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