The metaverse marginalizes disabled persons — how virtual worlds can be more inclusive

The metaverse. Everybody’s favorite topic (besides NFTs). Since the internet entered the era of Web 2.0, the disabled have been pleading to take online classes and work online jobs. They were told, “It’s too complicated,” or “It’s not feasible,” but it’s painstakingly obvious that that was false.

With the growth of cloud gaming, abstract concepts like virtual power plants becoming a reality, and the birth of satellite internet to deliver large amounts of data to the entire world, widespread metaverse adoption is inevitable. So let’s build a sandbox we all can play in (maybe without the sand).  

VR headsets and controllers are not disability friendly

Before we examine what these virtual worlds should look like, we need to understand the challenges that plague the metaverse. If you are accessing the metaverse via a game like Fortnite or Minecraft, it’s not a problem because people can purchase adaptable keyboards, mouses, game controllers and remap buttons.

Xbox Adaptive Controller (Image credit: Xbox)

This equipment can often be expensive and difficult to obtain for a group that lives off social security benefits or has limited funds. Rightfully, the Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC) was praised for making gaming more accessible, but many companies think the problem is solved or make their systems compatible with the XAC so they don’t have to innovate new hardware. But if the XAC ($100) is purchased alongside a new system like the Xbox Series X ($500), plus a few $60 games, and an adaptive controller to plug into the XAC (potentially hundreds of dollars), how feasible is it to make your conduit to a disability-friendly metaverse?

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