On informing the creation of assistive tools in virtual reality for severely visually disabled individuals
AffiliationSchool of Engineering, Computing and Mathematical Sciences, Faculty of Science and Engineering
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractVirtual Reality (VR) devices have advanced so dramatically in recent years that they are now capable of fully immersing users in experiences tailored to fit a multitude of needs. This emerging technology has far reaching potential, yet is primarily contained to the entertainment or gaming market, with limited considerations made for disabilities and accessibility. Identifying this gap, evaluating these newer VR devices for their suitability as accessibility aids is needed, and clear standards for successful disability VR design need to be defined and promoted to encourage greater inclusively going forward. To achieve this, a series of ophthalmology-informed tests were created and conducted against 24 participants with severe visual impairments. These tests were used as comparative benchmarks to determine the level of visual perception impaired users had while wearing a VR device against natural vision. Findings suggest that, under certain conditions, VR devices can greatly enhance visual acuity levels when used as replacements to natural vision or typical vision aids, without any enhancement made to account for visual impairments. Following findings and requirements elicited from participants, a prototype VR accessibility text reader and video player were developed allowing visually disabled persons to customise and configure specialised accessibility features for individualised needs. Qualitative usability testing involving 11 impaired participants alongside interviews fed into a iterative design process for better software refinement and were used to informed the creation of a VR accessibility framework for visual disabilities. User tests reported an overwhelmingly positive response to the tool as a feasible reading and viewing aid, allowing persons who could not engage (or, due to the difficulty, refusing to engage) in the reading and viewing of material to do so. Outcomes highlight that a VR device paired with the tested software would be an effective and affordable alternative to specialist head gear that is often expensive and lacking functionality & adaptability. These findings promote the use and future design of VR devices to be used as accessibility tools and visual aids, and provide a comparative benchmark, device usability guidelines, a design framework for VR accessibility, and the first VR accessibility software for reading and viewing.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
SponsorsBeacon Centre for the Blind & University of Wolverhampton.
The following licence applies to the copyright and re-use of this item:
- Creative Commons
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International