Virtual World Accessibility       


 Vicki Hanson photo Phillip D (Phill) Jenkins photoShari Trewin photo

Virtual World Accessibility - overview

PowerUp logo3D virtual worlds present a number of challenges to users with disabilities.

For the PowerUp game, we have been providing a proof of concept for accessible 3D games. Knowledge gained through this work can be expected to guide developers of virtual world engines as they seek to address issues of accessibility.

Innovative features designed for PowerUp provide audio to blind users. These features allow players, with audio, to look around, find objects, and walk (with feedback) through the 3D world. Features for low vision users include self-voicing text, text enhancements, and magnification. The PowerUp game is suitable for users with hearing loss as all audio also has a visual representation. Keyboard-only and mouse-only navigation have been made possible. Cognitive limitations, including dyslexia, are supported through the ability to have text read aloud.
Read more about the work:

Trewin, S., Hanson, V. L., Laff, M. R., and Cavender, A. (2008). PowerUp: An accessible virtual world. Proceedings of the Tenth International ACM Conference on Assistive Technologies, (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, October 13 - 15, 2008). Assets '08. ACM, New York, NY, 177-184. DOI=

Trewin, S. M., Laff, M. R., Cavender, A., and Hanson, V. L. (2008). Accessibility in virtual worlds. In CHI '08 Extended Abstracts on Human Factors in Computing Systems (Florence, Italy, April 05 - 10, 2008). CHI '08. ACM, New York, NY, 2727-2732. DOI=

IBM Free Online Game Chosen to Kick Off Earth Day Celebrations

IBM launches PowerUp, a new free 3D multiplayer virtual science game for the classroom

PowerUp accessibility options