Virtual reality, will we be left behind once more?


Walter Ramage
 

Hi all.  I just heard part of a BBC world service programme about the growth and future impact of Virtual reality.  It was stated that to begin with the main users would be gamers but this will eventually expand to all walks of life giving the user a unique experience.  Now keeping in mind this experience is a mainly visual one then blind people are going to be excluded from taking advantage of this new technology.

 

Of course, it appeared that way when desk top computers arrived on the scene until screen readers made their appearance but regardless of that, with the increased use of graphics, screen readers are forever playing catch up and there are still some things we can't take advantage of, regardless of a screen reader.  Another example was touch screen mobiles.  When they became popular we blind folk had to  stick to mobiles with physical keypads.  Then along came voice over and talk back and we once more caught up somewhat.

 

What about visual reality though?  As this is almost entirely a visual experience will we be left behind once more and will we ever be able to catch up or will it be a situation where the rest of the world moves on with their virtual reality experiences but we blind folk just lose out?  Unless in future the equipment can bypass the eyes and send the signal direct to the part of the brain that deals with imagery then I can't see how we can enjoy that new tech.  But there is one factor that is a negative with going straight to the part of the brain that handles vision and imagery, what about those folk who have been born from birth and have no idea of what to expect, would  using virtual reality be a terrifying and traumatic experience.  Maybe there is some factor I've not taken into consideration or there are things in the pipeline I'm not aware of but I'd be interested in your opinions.  One final point, There are a group of blind folk who have never had sight, or have lost what sight they had decades ago and some of those I've spoke to wouldn't want any vision virtual or otherwise so I guess those individuals will have no interest how this technology develops.  Walter.


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