Audio Description for 3-Dimensional (3D) Virtual Worlds (Session 8C)
Main Topic: Online Learning and Technology
Session Type: Paper
A three-dimensional virtual world (3D VW) is a simulated 3D environment that can be accessed online through a computer. Instead of a flat two-dimensional (2D) website, 3D VWs allow users to interact through avatars (digital representations), customizable objects, instant text and voice chat. Many institutions of higher education have established their own presence in Second Life (SL), a widely used 3D VW, in order to explore the possibilities of stimulating different forms of learning (Michels, 2008). Many universities have introduced virtual representations of themselves in the form of virtual campuses to support a wide range of educational activities. A virtual campus provides learners with a special virtual space for learning activities and a set of tools to benefit the educational process (Clark & Maher, 2001). Due to COVID-19 pandemic, many academic-related activities pivoted to an online delivery format and the need for a virtual campus is more evident now than ever. The University of Hawaii’s College of Education Second Life (COE SL) island was launched in 2011. In 2018, the COE SL island was moved to OpenSim, a free and open-source software that allows anyone to create a 3D VW similar to SL. From an assistive technology standpoint, 3D VWs have little to offer people with disabilities because the experience is largely visual in nature and user inputs often require extensive hand/eye coordination to precisely control an avatar’s movements. Wood, Morris and Ussery (2009) identified numerous accessibility limitations of 3D VWs to students with disabilities. Blind and visually impaired students face significant barriers to entry to 3D virtual worlds, specifically challenges on how they navigate and orient themselves within virtual spaces. Information in these virtual spaces is presented graphically rather than with textual equivalents. In particular, user generated content within 3D VW is not accessible to visually impaired users. This project seeks to bring awareness to the need for audio description for 3D VW in order to provide access to students with visual disabilities and to enhance universal design for learning. Like other “assistive technology,” audio description is geared primarily toward people who are blind or visually impaired but many sighted people can benefit from “description’s concise, objective ‘translation’ of the key visual components of various art genres and social settings” (Snyder, 2014, p.46). The project will create audio descriptions for the UH COE OpenSim island as a proof of concept and recruit students (visually impaired & sighted) to evaluate their satisfaction and effectiveness of the audio descriptions.
- Define audio description
- List the advantages of audio description
- Learn about 3D virtual worlds (3D VWs) such as OpenSim and Second Life
- Appreciate the need for audio description for 3D VW for the purpose of providing access to 3D VWs for visually impaired
- Learn about how our project seeks to create audio descriptions specifically for 3D VWs
Keywords: Audio description; 3D virtual worlds
Dr. Peter LeongUniversity of Hawaii-Manoa - Associate Professor
University of Hawaii-Manoa
Dr. Peter Leong is an Associate Professor with the Department of Learning Design & Technology (LTEC) where he has worked since 2008. Dr. Leong has extensive experience in the development and delivery of online courses and distance education. Dr. Leong was honored as one of Hawaii’s 2007 top high-technology leaders and was recognized with the University of Hawaii Board of Regents’ Medal for Teaching Excellence award in 2012. Dr. Leong was the developer of the College of Education’s island in Second Life and he organized the first virtual graduation at UHM, which allowed LTEC students both on Oahu and off-island to experience a virtual graduation ceremony in spring 2010. Dr. Leong serves on the Executive Board of the International Council of Educational Media (ICEM). He is currently a co-investigator on a recent National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to evaluate new approaches to improving engagement, diversity, and retention in undergraduate computer science. His publications include articles in Distance Education, Journal of Technology & Teacher Education, Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, and the International Journal of Design Education. His research interests include student satisfaction with online learning, faculty support for technology integration, technologies for distance education and teaching & learning in virtual worlds.