Recently, the need for a more inclusive and accessible Metaverse has become increasingly apparent. As a result, there has been a surge in efforts to explore potential solutions to this issue. To better understand the current accessibility challenges, we have taken a moment to reflect on past research conducted in the field of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Through a literature review of accessibility research in Second Life, a popular immersive virtual world during the Web 2.0 era, we analysed accessibility research (2008-2022, N=11 papers) presented at ACM SIGCHI conferences. The potential of accessible virtual worlds was already recognised in the Second Life era. However, we found that the solutions were only implemented as an afterthought and that in the future, we can draw more insights to build upon work from the past and other disciplines. We, therefore, highlight several critical aspects that were lacking and suggest opportunities and discussion points for future research in this field. Our goal is to help advance HCI research on the accessibility of immersive virtual worlds and prevent the pitfalls of the past. We believe that by doing so, we can create a more inclusive and accessible Metaverse without reawakening the ghosts from the past.
Annika Kaltenhauser, Johannes Schöning
15 Mar 2023