Verizon Media accessibility team and Cornell Tech host first summit on XR accessibility

By: Mike Shebanek and Larry Goldberg

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Verizon Media XR Summit

Osama Ali participating in VR demo using Oculus head-mounted display and touch controllers.

Virtual, augmented, and mixed reality technologies (XR) are on the cusp of becoming mainstream. These technologies have the potential to radically impact the lives of all people - old, young, rich, poor, people of color, people with disabilities, and more. In order to ensure this future technology is inclusive and accessible, Verizon Media and Cornell Tech hosted the first ever XR Access Symposium July 16 on Roosevelt Island, NYC.

We brought together more than 120 leaders from industry, government, academia, learning environments and diverse user communities for a day of talks, technology demonstrations, and working sessions focused on creating actionable plans to solve the unique accessibility challenges posed by XR. 

Attendees included XR industry leaders such as Facebook/Oculus, Magic Leap, Microsoft/HoloLens, RYOT Studios, Google, Adobe and academic institutions such as Columbia University, Carnegie Mellon, Gallaudet, RIT, and Berkeley, and academics who came from as far away as the University of Barcelona. Advocates and users with disabilities led and participated in the symposium, including Glenn Cantave, founder of Movers & Shakers NYC, a finalist in Verizon’s 5G Ed Tech Challenge.

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By the end of the symposium, this new community was engaged, excited, activated, and well on the way to creating a statement of principles that will guide ongoing research, development, prototyping and implementation for accessible XR in the years to come.

What’s next? The Symposium organizers are now compiling the findings and recommendations  from each of the 12 working groups and will be posting them for public comment, at XRAccess.org. Action plans for near- and long-term R&D and prototyping will also soon be distributed for engagement by this new Community of Practice.

Heartfelt thanks go to each of the incredible participants who, like Verizon, are committed to delivering the promise of the digital world--to everyone.

Learn more and get involved at www.xraccess.org

About the author(s):

Mike Shebanek is head of Accessibility and Larry Goldberg is the Senior Director of Media Accessibility at Verizon Media.

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