Initiative aims to make virtual, augmented, and mixed reality accessible

Date of webinar: 
8 Jun 2021 - 13:00

This FREE webinar took place on 08 June 2021

From the iPhone to the more recent virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) developments, Larry Goldberg, Senior Director and Head of Accessibility at Verizon Media discusses emerging technologies in this free webinar that took place in June 2021.

Larry discussed how he used these technologies as a template for how to deal with new and growing technologies. This knowledge helped to form XR Access - a new initiative that engages, connects, and influences the field of XR (mixed reality), to make it inclusive for all. Community knowledge and skills are shared along with user experiences and leading practices that all combine to help make XR inclusive and accessible. 

Highlights from the webinar

Larry also shared his thoughts on accessibility within new technologies, "Let's be prepared the next time we spot something on the horizon that looks like it's going to really enter all our lives. Be prepared next time so that when adoption is at the better than 50% level, it will be 'Born Accessible'."

Watch the webinar recording. You can also download the transcript.

During the webinar, Robin and Larry also discussed other topics including:

  • How technologies can both enable yet also create barriers for people with disabilities
  • How to support the next generation of accessibility professionals
  • Digital accessibility trends
  • Pushing the frontiers of future, inclusive experiences through virtual events
  • How the last year has seen hybrid events at the forefront of a business strategy

Robin Christopherson MBE, AbilityNet's Head of Digital Inclusion, hosted the online chat with Larry, which is part of our free Accessibility Insights webinar series featuring individuals who are each working to improve digital accessibility and digital inclusion. 

www.abilitynet.org.uk/live
Webinar FAQs

You can access the webinar slides, podcast and Q&As from the session below.

Questions and answers from the webinar

Larry has been able to provide answers to some of the questions posed by attendees during the webinar:

Question: How goes the transition with Apollo Management?

Answer: The process is moving forward and the business transfer is expected to be completed by the early Fall. My Accessibility team will remain intact as part of the new Yahoo under Apollo and Verizon will be continuing along its strong path, with its new Disability Advisory Board, Valuable 500 commitments and Iconic Leadership programme and ongoing accessibility compliance within Verizon's corporate and consumer divisions.

Q: I would love to know what you both think about the feasibility of the Accessibility Object Model draft that’s in the making at the moment. Do you think this is something that will become the standard?

A: I think it's an important opportunity to help advance XR accessibility, but I need to learn and understand more.

Q: I really like the idea of creating a system to record and prioritise accessibility bugs. I was wondering if you could share a little more detail about how you prioritise the A-bugs?

A: Here's how we prioritize our A-bugs:

  • Issues that are assigned an A0 (Critical risk) e.g. a video player is totally inaccessible to screen reader users; should be fixed and migrated to production within 3 days. 
  • Issues that are assigned an A1 (High risk) e.g. the bottom tabs in an app are inaccessible to keyboard only users however a possible work around exists; should be fixed and migrated to production within 14 days. 
  • Issues that are assigned an A2 (Medium risk) e.g. a functional task is not intuitive like moving a message to a folder; should be fixed and migrated to production within 30 days.
  • Issues that are assigned an A3 (Low risk) e.g. the colour contrast ratio between foreground and background of a button does not meet a ratio of at least 4.5 to 1; should be fixed and migrated to production within 60 days.

Q: Do you think there is possible future for automated Audio Description (AD)?

A: I do believe that automated AD will be making progress over the next few years, with many assistive and mainstream applications looking for such solutions. I envision interesting experiments and proofs of concept over the next decade as image recognition begins to take on the challenges of dynamic (vs. static) imagery, context, emotion, intent and meaning. I wouldn't dare make a timeline prediction as even automatic speech recognition (ASR) for captioning needs a more rapid growth curve to achieve the quality we need and should expect, and automated AD is perhaps where ASR was 20 years ago. But with advances in AI and massive databases of video with existing high-quality, human-created AD now available, automated AD progress should have a steeper curve than the early days of ASR for closed captions (CC).

Q: The idea of Born Accessible is exactly where we should be heading, however, how do we support existing organisations in becoming more digitally accessible (like the NHS) without starting from scratch?

A: An organisation doesn't need to start from scratch in order to up its accessibility game - it starts with awareness, education, and training - winning hearts and minds - and executive buy-in on all of those parameters. Then, an organisation like the NHS can tackle its backlog and "accessibility debt" with a roadmap and timeline for cleaning up its existing technologies while assuring that any new developments go through a careful design and launch process where accessibility is at the table at all stages, getting to Born Accessible over time.

Further resources

We also offer paid role-based accessibility training. 

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