Students develop VR game for children with disabilities

Fontys Information and Communication Technology

Eline (links) met haar twee studiegenoten en projectpartners

As an ICT student in the teaching method Open Learning, Eline works on several assignments during the academic year. In September, that's where the Visio assignment came in. "Visio had purchased VR headsets and wondered if we could offer something on these sets so that students could make use of them."

Eline and her two fellow students didn't have to think long about that. "It sounded like an incredibly fun project that we wanted to start immediately." This was done first of all through research into VR accessibility and how students with, for example, a visual impairment could play a VR game. "VR is not known for being accessible to everyone, but you can actually use it to pass on experiences or perceptions."

'Immediately enthusiastic'

To make that happen, the students visited primary schools in Haren, Groningen. "Those kids were immediately enthusiastic, which made me realise how special this project was. Children with disabilities know a completely different way of learning and it's great that we can contribute to that in this way."

By the way, anyone who thinks VR only consists of images and sound is wrong. "There is also such a thing as haptic feedback, like vibrations in controllers. By incorporating that into our game, VR can still support students in what they need to do in the game."

Playing basketball with disabilities
That game, called VisioVR, is relatively simple in the basics. Students have to use a controller to pick up a basketball and throw it through a basket. After five hit shots, the levels get a little more difficult. "This is fairly easy when you don't have a disability. But let a visually impaired or blind student pick something up. Or someone with a disability on their arms or hands move a controller as if throwing a ball."

Those challenges have all been tackled in the new game. For instance, visually impaired learners get an audio tutorial as an explanation, you hear a sound when you have picked up the ball and the basket gives off a 3D audio signal so the learner knows where the basket is. Children with mobile disabilities can pick up and shoot the ball by pressing and releasing buttons on the controller.

Challenge trophy
These are features that have all come about thanks to the children themselves, as there has been a lot of testing in recent months. Next Wednesday, the game will be officially handed over to Visio Education, after which the children will be allowed to make full use of the VR game. 

Perhaps a trophy will also travel with them to the north of the country, as a fortnight ago the ICT students won the Impact for Society award during Innovation Insights. "The trophy is still here for now, but that will probably become a change trophy, so that Visio students can also enjoy it."

De poster van VisioVR