Alt text plays a crucial role in providing individuals who rely on screen readers with a textual representation of visual content. However, dynamic and computer-generated virtual worlds comprised of scenes, 3D objects, and avatars in virtual reality (VR) remain mostly inaccessible. Equally immersive experiences are harder to guarantee, as conventional alt text may not provide rich enough descriptions for screen reader users. Additionally, engaging with virtual worlds only through the audio channel poses risks of auditory overload. To overcome the limitations of conventional alt text and reduce the experience gap between screen reader users and non-screen reader users in VR, we propose multisensory alt attributes. In this position paper, we explore the novel design space of using alt text (auditory channel) and alt sense (haptic channel) to convey the rich visual appearance of the VR world and consider the communication of social cues, and the support of navigation.
Yu Sun, Carolin Stellmacher, Annika Kaltenhauser, Nadine Wagener, Daniel Neumann, Johannes Schöning
13 Mar 2023