In a time when the negative aspects of technology often seem most discussed, it is easy to lose sight of what a hugely positive impact new innovations can have on everyday life. This is especially true for those of us living with disabilities.
As of 2018, it is estimated there are around 13.9 million disabled citizens living in the UK and although the vast majority of businesses, attractions and venues have greatly improved accessibility to their facilities for the disabled, visiting a new place can be an anxiety inducing experience. 3D virtual tours are being explored as a way to not only alleviate these issues but as a way of bringing new experiences to those who may not be fortunate enough to visit physically.
Using 3D Virtual Tours To Build Confidence
Although virtual reality, augmented reality and 3D scanning have existed in some form since the 1990’s, recent improvements and innovations have opened new avenues in how remarkably beneficial these technologies can be, particularly to the disabled community. A great example is the recently commissioned virtual tour of the Birmingham Children’s Hospital facilities. This was created to help the parents of children who have special needs, such as autism, who feel more comfortable with a set routine. The virtual tour empowers the parents to provide reassurance by allowing their children to see where they will be going and then planning their visit together.
This approach was also developed by the live music and events space: OPEN in Norwich, who worked with a local company to create a 3D virtual tour of their entire venue. The team at OPEN hope to use this technology to encourage a more inclusive atmosphere where disabled visitors can confidently enjoy the venue’s variety of events. The 3D virtual tour is an easy and convenient way to see what kind of disabled access is available prior to visiting, making it simple for disabled people in the local community to plan their visit accordingly.
As a multi-purpose venue it is very difficult to describe exactly what we can offer a variety of users. This 3D tour demonstrates just how diverse the venue is.
The benefits of using this technology to assist those with disabilities are also being explored in other interesting ways. Using 3D technology to help train disabled people for real life situations through simulation is an avenue showing great potential. The University of Haifa in Israel, recently pioneered a system that used virtual reality as a means to teach children with autism to cross the road safely. The children used a virtual reality headset to simulate crossing the road while in a safe environment. Researchers working on the project found that the children using the system showed a marked improvement in safely assessing when to cross the road. An exciting glimpse as to how 3D virtual tours and VR technology could be used to greatly improve the quality of life for those with disabilities in the future.
Bringing Experiences To Those Not Able To Go
With 52% of disabled people in the UK living with some form of mobility impairment, visiting an event or attraction, even one with fantastic disabled access, may simply not be possible for certain people. It is in these situations where 3D virtual tours can be utilised to bring these experiences home.
Recently the DisArt gallery in Michigan embraced this philosophy by commissioning a local company to create a 3D virtual tour of their Process & Presence exhibition. This specifically curated exhibition represents 16 different artist from across the globe who all live with disabilities, and showcases 30 unique sculptures. Due to the nature of the Process & Presence exhibition, DisArt co-directors, Jill Vyn and Chris Smith, were keen to expand access to to the exhibit, even if that access may not be in person.
We recognize that for many reasons — transportation, emotional, physical reasons — that some people can’t go to a gallery But we still want people to have access to the art.
A 3D virtual tour presented the perfect way to let those less fortunate, have the physical experience to explore the gallery in a way that until very recently, would have seemed like science fiction.
The far reaching implications these new technologies, and the impact they could have on the lives of those living with disabilities, not just in the UK but across the world, have only just begun to be explored. However, it is new innovations like these that will continue to bridge the gap towards a more inclusive and accessible life for everyone.
To find out more about 3D virtual tours, including the process, cost and how they can be utilised, please reach out to a member of the Scene3D team here.
Quote 01 – Hayley Gerrard , OPEN
Quote 02 – Jill Vyn, DisArt