Non-Verbal Non-Visual Social Interactions in VR

Banner with people wearing VR Hedadsets
Subject: Non-Verbal Non-Visual Social Interactions in VR
Abstract: One of the most difficult aspects for mainstream VR developers to comprehend is how to make their VR experience accessible to blind and visually impaired (BVI) individuals. This confound is made greater when non-visual social interactions are added. Fortunately, the BVI community has been building non-visual VR experiences for the last twenty plus years, creating solutions for navigation, environment interactions, and social interactions that can be directly translated into mainstream VR experiences. These conventions come from audio games, games that can be played completely in audio, using the only head mounted display BVIs need: headphones. Five of the top English-speaking audio game developers who had released at least four audio games, one of which had some kind of first-person mode, were presented with an inventory of 29 non-verbal social interactions in VR, and through a three-round Delphi method, designed how that interaction could be done non-visually. These interactions can serve as the foundation for mainstream VR developers to make some of their most complex VR experiences completely non-visual.

This talk will be targeted at sighted VR developers.

Speaker: Mr. Brandon Biggs

Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute /USA

Short biography of speaker: Brandon Biggs is an entrepreneur, researcher, inclusive designer, developer, and life-long learner. He is the CEO at XR Navigation, an engineer at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, CFO at Sonja Biggs Educational Services Inc., and a PhD student at the Georgia Institute of Technology. In 2016, he received his BA in music from California State University East Bay, in 2019, received his masters in Inclusive Design from the Ontario College of Art and Design University, and in 2021, started his PhD in Human Centered Computing from Georgia Tech. He is almost completely blind from Lebers Congenital Amaurosis (LCA). His projects and ventures center around building tools to solve some of the most difficult problems in the blindness field. He leverages his lived experience coupled with human centered inclusive design principles to create solutions that create lasting and sustainable impact. To achieve this goal, Brandon is half entrepreneur and half academic. His main projects include creating a platform to show non-visual geographic maps, and designing non-visual virtual reality experiences.

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