Embodied Exploration - Facilitating Remote Accessibility Assessment for Wheelchair Users with Virtual Reality

ASSETS 2023

Abstract

Acquiring accessibility information about unfamiliar places in advance is essential for wheelchair users to make better decisions about physical visits. Today’s assessment approaches such as phone calls, photos/videos, or 360° virtual tours often fall short of providing the specific accessibility details needed for individual differences. For example, they may not reveal crucial information like whether the legroom underneath a table is spacious enough or if the spatial configuration of an appliance is convenient for wheelchair users. In response, we present Embodied Exploration, a Virtual Reality (VR) technique to deliver the experience of a physical visit while keeping the convenience of remote assessment. Embodied Exploration allows wheelchair users to explore high-fidelity digital replicas of physical environments with themselves embodied by avatars, leveraging the increasingly affordable VR headsets. With a preliminary exploratory study, we investigated the needs and iteratively refined our techniques. Through a real-world user study with six wheelchair users, we found Embodied Exploration is able to facilitate remote and accurate accessibility assessment. We also discuss design implications for embodiment, safety, and practicality.

Publication
The 25th International ACM SIGACCESS Conference on Computers and Accessibility (New York, NY, USA)(ASSETS’23). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA.
Chen Chen
Chen Chen
Ph.D. Candidate
Nadir Weibel
Nadir Weibel
Professor of Computer Science and Engineering

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