• Barriers to Supporting Accessible VR in Academic Libraries

      Clark, Jasmine; Lischer-Katz, Zack (2020-05-20)
      Virtual reality (VR) shows great promise for enhancing the learning experience of students in higher education and academic libraries are at the forefront of efforts to bring VR into the curriculum as an innovative learning tool. This paper reviews some of the growing applications and benefits of VR technologies for supporting pedagogy in academic libraries and outlines the challenges of making VR accessible for disabled students. It defines existing regulations and guidelines for designing accessible digital technologies and offers two case studies drawn from each of the authors’ own academic libraries, at Temple University and at the University of Oklahoma, in order to provide insight into the challenges and benefits of making VR more accessible for students. The paper argues that to continue to serve their mission of equitable access to information for the entire student population, academic libraries that implement VR programs need to balance innovation with inclusion by allocating sufficient staff time and technical resources and bringing accessibility thinking into VR projects from the beginning. To accomplish this, libraries will need the assistance of software developers and accessibility experts, and librarians will need to act as strong advocates for better support from commercial software and hardware vendors and to promote change in their institutions.