Virtual Reality technology comes to Futures Life Skills Centre

24 Oct 2019

Futures Life Skills Centre users have been enjoying trying out some recently acquired Virtual Reality (VR) technology in their ICT sessions in our multimedia suite.

VR offers wondrous opportunities when it comes to making learning more accessible for disabled people. What makes it such a game-changer is its ability to fully immerse people in safe, controlled, 360-degree virtual environments.

Our ICT activity coordinator Paul Crawford has been organising these sessions and comments,

“For learners with access needs, VR can offer learning experiences that were previously unattainable. By creating environments that simulate a person’s presence in worlds real or imagined, VR can help learners with disabilities expand their knowledge, skills, and attitudes in ways that would not have been possible before, enabling engagement in learning activities relatively free from many imposed limitations and in complete safety.”

For people learning how to deal with new physical or sensory disabilities, difficult or risky learning experiences can be had safely through VR. First-time wheelchair users, for example, can use VR to learn how to navigate a busy street or shopping centre in a virtual environment, safely understanding how to move around and avoid obstacles in a virtual setting before venturing into the real world.

Virtual reality can be used to help learners with communication challenges like autism or Asperger’s develop and practice social skills in non-threatening environments, including offering access to learning opportunities from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Conversely, it can also be used to help non-disabled people experience the world from the perspective of those learners.

For learners with diverse access needs and learning styles arising from different impairments, VR can help adapt learning experiences. For example, VR is an effective tool for helping autistic children learn social interaction and nonverbal cues in individualized settings. Virtual environments or input stimuli are controllable to match what is tolerable to the learner.

VR can also provide a distraction-free experience for learners with attention deficiency challenges because the virtual reality headset completely covers their frame of view. The immersive environment of a VR experience can promote sustained focus and attention.

The availability of VR apps is increasing dramatically, and with every new piece of software, another avenue is opening up for disabled learners. Watch this (virtual) space!!

To book yourself onto an introductory ICT or VR session mail futureslifeskills@chf.org.uk or call 01825 723 723.

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