VR mainly relies on realistic visual feedback to provide an immersive experience that is only accessible to sighted people. Most VR applications are not accessible for people with low vision (i.e., a visual impairment that cannot be corrected by eyeglasses or contact lenses), preventing them from benefiting from this important class of emerging technology. In this talk, I’ll describe my research collaboration with Microsoft, which focused on designing technologies to make VR accessible for people with low vision, as well as discussing design guidelines for accessible VR. I addressed VR accessibility from both the user and the developer’s perspectives: designing a post hoc plugin to modify existing VR applications in runtime; and providing a Unity toolkit that allows integrating low vision support tools during development. In my talk, I will discuss the experiences and challenges that people with low vision have for VR, as well as the technologies I designed to increase VR accessibility. I will also reflect on general accessibility guidelines for VR.
Yuhang Zhao is a 5th-year Ph.D. student in the Information Science department at Cornell Tech, Cornell University, advised by Prof. Shiri Azenkot. Her research interests include human-computer interaction, accessibility, and augmented and virtual reality. She designs and builds intelligent interactive systems to enhance human perception and abilities. Her Ph.D. thesis focuses on designing augmented reality applications for people with low vision. Her work has been published at many top-tier conferences and journals in the field of HCI (including two best paper nominees). She received her B.A. and M.S. degree in Computer Science from Tsinghua University, China.