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Five Ways the Metaverse Could be Revolutionary for People with Disabilities

The metaverse is a growing resource that is quite unlike anything that we have seen before, and, while it is still in its infancy, it looks as though it is going to be far more inclusive than its predecessor. In most areas of life, people with disabilities have been short-changed, and have perhaps not experienced the same experiences that able-bodied people have. But the Metaverse could be the catalyst that makes all of that change; it’s early days, but there seems to be a number of areas where the Metaverse is going to level the playing field.  

The ability of the internet to make activities that would normally need physical mobility more accessible has been referred to as “virtual mobility” for some time now, and it is looking like things are only going to get better. This concept has been in use for quite some time, and really came into its own during the pandemic, when there was a significant increase in the efficiency with which people were able to migrate their job, pleasure, and social activities online. The metaverse presents an opportunity to elevate things to an even higher level, and is going to be especially of huge benefit to people with disabilities, but just how will that be? Well, the benefits for disabled people using the Metaverse include:

  • Work activities. The pandemic demonstrated how rapidly we are able to adapt to new ways of doing things in the workplace. A sizeable portion of the population anticipates finding employment in the metaverse in some capacity or another. According to the findings of a recent survey conducted by Microsoft, approximately 84 percent of the 31,000 people from a variety of generations who were polled anticipate that they will be performing at least some of their job responsibilities in the form of “Metawork”. This is another name for work done through the Metaverse portal, either almost immediately or in the not-too-distant future. The capacity to access the types of job that a person’s age or disability might otherwise make it difficult for them to obtain in the real world can be made possible through the use of the Metaverse. A burgeoning community of designers is getting ready to construct the virtual interiors that will be unique to the Metaverse. These virtual interiors will not exist anywhere else. Journalism, real estate agency work, general office work, and design-based activities are some of the other fields that have exciting job prospects based on the metaverse. Of course, nearly any activity that is design-based also has potential to become a viable on-line position.
  • Social interactions. Of course, all of that work needs to be off-set by some serious downtime, and the Metaverse is all about that. It’s been known for a long time that people with disabilities can benefit from traditional forms of social media. People will be able to freely connect with one another in social spaces in the metaverse that have been thoughtfully designed to take advantage of the benefits of social virtual reality, which simulates interactions that take place in person and removes the barriers that exist in the actual world. It is important to note that users of metaverse platforms such as Meta’s Horizon Worlds will have the ability to represent themselves as virtual avatars, with the ability to present themselves in any guise they like. According to research, some handicapped people use virtual avatars as a tool through which to reflect features of their impairment as a major component of their identity. Others may choose to represent themselves using completely fictitious personas known as avatars. The metaverse allows users to be as free and creative as they want to be perceived, and it eliminates the assumptions that persons with disabilities or who are older may encounter when engaging with others in person. In the Metaverse, social interactions are well, more social.
  • Education. Many people with disabilities find schools and colleges either daunting or inaccessible, or even both, and having those barriers even before starting to learn can be a huge disadvantage. Over the last decade or so, education has been moving out of the classroom and has become more interactive. That, together with the home-working imposed by COVID-19 has created a situation where technology has taken over and an increasing number of on-line courses, and those benefits everyone. The Metaverse has the potential to enhance the variety and quality of education delivery channels that are available to users with disabilities, as well as learning opportunities for people in later age. Because of advances in immersive technology, it is now possible to provide higher education in an interesting and interactive manner without having students physically attend classes. This style of delivery would eliminate some of the factors that prevent many people from receiving quality education, such as the requirement to move away from home or go to a physical campus. This would make access to quality education more accessible to a greater number of people. Additionally, there are a plethora of options to use the Metaverse for remote coaching, the advancement of one’s personal development, and training.
  • Entertainment. With a growing number of big artists performing exclusive acts on the Metaverse, the virtual world is becoming firmly entrenched as the major entertainment hub of the future. One sort of entertainment available in the metaverse is live performances at virtual venues such as theatres, cinemas, museums, and galleries, and gigs in the metaverse are just one type of available entertainment. The tourism industry is another sector where chances to travel via various digital settings can be provided through the Metaverse. Using a virtual reality headset, vacationers may also experience distant physical destinations without leaving the comfort of their own homes, which would make travelling more accessible and less expensive. The fact that the content is being bought straight to the eyes of the user means that there are no issues with trying to negotiate muddy fields or packed stadiums with specialist equipment.
  • Health and well-being. We couldn’t reference the Metaverse without aspiring to its potential to totally overhaul how we interact with healthcare professionals and ways of boosting our health. It is well documented that the Metaverse is an excellent way of getting people moving but it also has the potential to go much further. In the realm of medicine, the metaverse can develop into an influential platform that will be helpful in a variety of subspecialties. Extended reality simulation, for instance, can be utilised for a wide variety of forms of medical education and training, including those pertaining to mental health and emergency response. Additionally, virtual reality and augmented reality have the potential to improve medical imaging in radiology and provide support for diagnosis, treatment planning, and medical research.  From the point of view of people with disabilities, the power of the Metaverse can make potentially traumatic visits to healthcare professionals a whole lot easier.

The Metaverse is a growing entity that is impacting the lives of most of us in a positive way, but as it continues to grow it is likely to have an even greater impact on members of society who find everyday life harder than others. And if the Metaverse can have a positive impact on those with disabilities, then it will have done an admirable job.