How to create accessible metaverse experiences
The metaverse is not a temporary fad.
Its death might have been proclaimed several times already, but it’s still alive and kicking.
It simply needs to be more accessible.
According to the recent Capgemini survey, more than 90% of adult consumers are curious about the metaverse. They’re ready to learn more about it, but accessibility is the biggest obstacle.
How to make the metaverse more accessible, so that both brands and consumers could benefit from this technology?
There are many ways to achieve that goal. While there’s no doubt that access to broadband internet would help more users jump into the metaverse, there are a few more subtle factors worth considering.
The metaverse isn’t a friendly place for users with disabilities. First, the VR headsets might be difficult to handle as they’re too heavy for people with weak neck muscles. Controllers are not perfect either. Buttons or joysticks create a key obstacle for people who can’t move their limbs freely. Then there are sensory limitations: Web 3.0 experiences have to be easily accessible to the blind, deaf, or visually impaired. For example, some brands introduce colorblind mode in their games, some allow users to interact through audio or motion interfaces. Haptic feedback devices may be a handy solution for blind users as well. If your goal is to create an accessible, immersive, and inclusive virtual world, you can’t ignore the needs of your users with disabilities.
To make the metaverse more accessible, it has to be a safe environment for everyone. There have been multiple cases of mocking or sexual harassment in the metaverse which force many users to leave the virtual space. To increase user safety Horizon Worlds introduced Safe Zones, where you can distance yourself from others by setting personal boundaries. Other features that help to increase user safety include reporting or blocking an inappropriate user, enforcing penalties on users who commit a crime in the metaverse, or imposing usage restrictions for overactive users (some social media platforms already do that).
No matter how stable and secure the Web 3.0 experience is, it won’t be appealing to global users if the content is unclear. To make sure your target users can navigate smoothly through a virtual music event, purchase items in a metaverse store, or interact with others, every single button, command, CTA, or instruction have to be available in the language your users can understand. Displaying the user interface in English only is no longer enough. To make your virtual content “accessible for all” you’ll need to adapt it to other cultures. While some metaverse platforms are already available in languages other than English, there’s still a long way to go before Web 3.0 will be fully immersive for all non-English users. For example, Decentraland is only available in English, and Sandbox offers merely six languages.
The metaverse is here to stay no matter what the self-proclaimed experts or journalists say. But to make it more friendly to consumers around the world, it has to cater to the needs of global users by ensuring easy navigation, understandable content, and higher safety.
Dorota Pawlak is a localization consultant for digital and Web 3.0 brands. She enjoys helping businesses enter new markets and is passionate about cultures, languages, and technology.
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