philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


X-Road: Virtual Reality Glasses for Orientation and Mobility Training of People with Visual Impairments

Abstract : Orientation and Mobility (O&M) classes teach people with visual impairments how to navigate the world, for instance how to cross a road. Yet, this training can be difficult and dangerous due to conditions such as traffic and weather. Virtual Reality (VR) can overcome these challenges by providing interactive controlled environments. However, most existing VR tools rely on visual feedback, which limits their use with students with visual impairment. In a collaborative design approach with O&M instructors, we designed an affordable and accessible VR system for O&M classes, called X-Road. Using a smartphone and a bespoke headmount, X-Road provides both visual and audio feedback and allows users to move in space, as in the real world. In a study with 13 students with visual impairments, X-Road proved to be an effective alternative to teaching and learning classical O&M tasks, and both students and instructors were enthusiastic about this technology. We conclude with design recommendations for inclusive VR systems.

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