How to make VR games more wheelchair accessible

Virtual reality has a wide range of uses; mainly for enjoyment. But how can you fully enjoy virtual reality if you are not fully mobile, especially if you are in a wheelchair? There are several ways to facilitate wheelchair users ’access to the RV.

So how does virtual reality fit into the lives of people with mobility issues? The following explains how it can be helpful for people with wheelchairs and how to make the virtual reality experience easier for wheelchair users.

The benefits of virtual reality for people in wheelchairs

There are several advantages that people with mobility problems can have with virtual reality. Here are some of them.

Mental health

When people are physically disabled for the first time, it can be an overwhelming experience. There is a lot of stress and confusion during the early stages of learning to use and re-trust your body.

For the temporarily disabled, virtual reality can help renew the sense of hope. It can provide them with a relaxing activity in which their lack of mobility does not significantly impair their ability to have a remarkable experience. In fact, virtual reality is a great way to feel part of an activity without feeling like you’re different from everyone else.

Medical treatment

wheelchair user with HTC vive

In 2018, the National Library of Medicine published a study showing the results of virtual reality in medical education to teach empathy. Using immersive virtual reality, health professionals were able to simulate patients ’disease experience. With virtual reality, people with disabilities can experience what it means to lose mobility, which helps drive the importance of creating spaces for inclusive experiences in general.

According to another study by St. George’s in London, 100% of patients exposed to soothing scenes in VR before surgery reported improved experience. In fact, 80% of the patients in the study reported less pain and 73% reported being less anxious. For people in wheelchairs who may undergo an endless series of surgeries, virtual reality may be just the breath of fresh air they need.

Related: How to overcome motion sickness when playing in virtual reality

New experiences

When they think of the life of a person with full mobility, they do not experience many of their exceptional moments limited to sitting. Unfortunately, this means that many people with disabilities do not have the same access to opportunities to explore.

With virtual reality, a wheelchair doesn’t have to stop you practically to climb mountains, see the best museums in the world, or even go into space. In recent times, it is also possible to see experiences such as conferences and concerts via VR.

Practical monitoring

One of the biggest problems people with wheelchairs experience is not knowing if all the places they are heading to are accessible. For this reason, we can also use RV to help wheelchair users plan routes to places like malls, traffic stations, amusement parks, and more.

With VR, it is possible to check places in advance if there is accessible parking, ramps, toilets and lifts. This will not only help relieve anxiety from unfamiliar places, but it also helps people caring for wheelchair users to effectively prepare for activities to reduce discomfort.

Tips for making wheelchair VR games accessible

Assistant and man with VR headset in a wheelchair

In addition to the other benefits, virtual reality is also fun. We must not rob people living with reduced mobility of the opportunity to participate in fun. If you’re wondering how to make RV games work for a wheelchair user you’re interested in, here are some tips you can follow to make your RV setup accessible with a wheelchair.

Adjust camera and game settings

You will be amazed at how many popular VR games can still work well even when you are sitting. However, the default camera and game settings for virtual reality that still use motion capture often take into account people’s average height.

To mitigate this, adjust the camera and game settings to take into account the appropriate seating height. Alternatively, you can also invest in virtual reality equipment, such as the Oculus Rift series, which can operate without the need for additional calibration.

Choose Games with front action

While the 360-degree experience is one of the hallmarks of immersive virtual reality entertainment, it can challenge wheelchair users who sometimes only see 180 degrees without maneuvering the wheelchair.

For this reason, it is best to choose games with most front-facing action. With this, they can still experience virtual reality without feeling affected by the inability to look behind them.

Use adaptive VR game software

If you don’t want to have the hassle of having to buy manually without knowing if they are wheelchair compatible or not, you can also use VR adaptation software like WalkinVR. With WalkinVR, wheelchair-bound gamers who also have trouble pressing buttons on controllers, such as people with cerebral palsy, spinal muscular atrophy, or muscular dystrophy, can still play.

Through game assistance, WalkinVR emulates the virtual reality controller buttons with the help of another person. Apart from that, it can also help compensate for movement restrictions and allow devices to detect hands, which helps people who can’t use drivers either.

Invest in virtual reality peripherals

There are many types of wheelchair related disabilities. While some people still retain some kind of mobility in both legs, there are also people who cannot move their legs. If your mobility is limited, but you are not completely paraplegic, you can choose to invest in virtual reality peripherals that mimic the natural movement of which you are capable. Not only is it a form of good exercise, but it also helps build confidence with other parts of the body.

For example, UnlimitedHand is a privileged band that uses haptic response technology and simulates hand moments within the world of virtual reality. If you can use at least one foot, you can use devices like 3DRudder, which acts as a virtual pad that simulates movement with one foot.

Accessibility challenges with virtual reality

vr user in wheelchair

Virtual reality has come a long way since it became commercially available. Over time, VR technology has become more affordable and easy to use. However, even for people with full mobility, the current state of VR technology still has several limitations.

Today, VR peripherals still cannot perfectly reproduce the feeling of natural motion. When not connected to dozens of cables, the best portable VR devices still struggle with battery life.

With that in mind, it’s no wonder that RV for people with disabilities still has a long way to go. However, as the virtual reality market expands steadily, so will the experience that allows for better accessibility.

Fortunately, we are likely to see positive developments improve in the coming years. For now, you can try the above tips to make sure a wheelchair doesn’t stop you from living your best (virtual) life.

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