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Two sides of the same coin: accessibility practices and neurodivergent users' experience of extended reality

Tamari Lukava (Global Disability Innovation Hub, UCL, London, UK)
Dafne Zuleima Morgado Ramirez (Global Disability Innovation Hub, UCL, London, UK)
Giulia Barbareschi (Global Disability Innovation Hub, UCL, London, UK) (Keio Graduate School of Media Design, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan)

Journal of Enabling Technologies

ISSN: 2398-6263

Article publication date: 13 May 2022

Issue publication date: 15 August 2022

784

Abstract

Purpose

This paper explores the accessibility barriers faced by neurodivergent individuals regarding the use of Extended Reality (XR) technologies and the difficulties faced by developers in creating neurodivergent inclusive XR experiences.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors carried out a survey with neurodivergent participants, and a series of semi-structured interviews with neurodivergent adults and XR developers.

Findings

Neurodivergent individuals experience sensory overload when using XR technologies; these negative experiences are exacerbated by excessive multisensory stimulation. Allowing for the customization of sensory settings was seen as the only way to potentially limit negative experiences. The authors found that XR developers lacked awareness of accessibility requirements and struggled to integrate them in current software development practices.

Social implications

Accessibility understanding regarding neurodivergence is increasingly available and the time has come to bring computing and information services within the reach of all neurodivergent individuals. The power in the design of XR, which is crucial, is decentralized from neurotypical XR developing practices to avoid artificial barriers that decrease the quality of life.

Originality/value

There is a lack of studies exploring how neurodivergent individuals experience XR considering their different sensory processing patterns. There is also no research exploring XR developers' awareness of accessibility needs of neurodivergent individuals. This paper presents an account of the challenges faced by neurodivergent XR users, the difficulties faced by XR developers to integrate neurodivergent accessibility requirements, and proposes specific strategies to overcome challenges.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors wish to express gratitude to all the participants who shared their experience and insights with the authors as part of the study.

Citation

Lukava, T., Morgado Ramirez, D.Z. and Barbareschi, G. (2022), "Two sides of the same coin: accessibility practices and neurodivergent users' experience of extended reality", Journal of Enabling Technologies, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 75-90. https://doi.org/10.1108/JET-03-2022-0025

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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