Access in a Virtual World
by Sheri Trewin
Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 11:00am - Wednesday, January 21, 2009, 12:00pm
Virtual worlds have developed to the point where millions of people use them for fun, social interaction, education and even employment. They could provide a liberating tool for people whose day to day- access to these opportunities is limited by a disability. To make this a reality, the virtual worlds themselves must be accessible. This talk considers what it takes to make virtual worlds usable by individuals with a range of perceptual, physical, and cognitive disabilities. Examples are drawn from PowerUp - IBM’s multi-player 3D virtual world game. PowerUp includes an extensive set of accessibility features, based on empirical work with legally blind teenagers and adults with cerebral palsy. These features provide a core level of accessibility, and continue to be developed with the goal of reaching equal access, in which users with disabilities are indistinguishable from any other player.