Hello. I am both an Oculus Rift and Quest owner, and believe it or not, I am also legally blind. I have enough vision to play many mainstream games, including some VR titles. However, there are a few accessibility problems I encounter while in VR, especially in VR dashboards, menus, settings screens, and other UI. I also want to add that there are many others who are low vision or legally blind like myself, who are very interested in virtual reality, and would love to use either the Rift or Quest, if it weren’t for some common problems I’ll describe below.
One of the main problems I and others with low vision have, is navigating and reading the overall in-headset dashboard interface, be it Oculus Home on the Rift, the dashboard on the Quest, or SteamVR.
There are a few key things that would really help out here:
1. Font Size Options
Having the ability to adjust font size, even to text that may seem extremely large to some people, would be very helpful.
2. Good Color Contrast
Oculus does this pretty well in both the Rift and Quest dashboards. The dark gray backgrounds and light text is pretty good. It’s mainly the text size and distance.
3. Full 6DOF tracking for Dashboard
Please allow full 6 DOF head tracking for the dashboard UI for both Rift and Quest. Right now, most of the menus and windows are set to be a fixed virtual distance from the user’s eye. If for instance, Oculus feels that 3 virtual feet away is optimal, that’s where the UI is fixed. If you try leaning or moving closer, the UI moves away from you to maintain that distance, likewise if you lean or move backwards. Just like being in a VR environment, I want to be able to lean or walk right up close to a menu, options screen, store page, etc, just as I would walk closer to a sign or poster on a wall in real life.
4. Allow all headset options to be configured via the Oculus mobile app or desktop app.
Some settings and features can only be setup or changed when in the headset. Others can be adjusted via the flat screen Windows app, or the mobile Oculus app. It would be extremely helpful to simply allow all options to be available in the desktop or mobile apps, in addition to in the headset. For instance, I can buy and download apps and games to the headset via the apps, so why can’t I remove/delete them the same way? Instead, I have to find that tiny menu button in the headset Library screen and try pointing to Uninstall. There are several other options on the Quest settings area that also don’t seem to be in the mobile app.
All of these features in combination would greatly improve low vision accessibility for many users, likely including thousands of people who wear glasses, and may not need to if these features were supported.
Ultimately, I would love to see a feature that would support text-to-speech for the Oculus dashboards, like one would find in Windows or XBOX One’s Narrator feature. Pointing your cursor at an item, control, button, or block of text, would simply read it aloud.
Microsoft is currently working on a project like this, and then some for Unity called SeeingVR. Just look for SeeingVR on YouTube, and their 7 minute video should be the first or second in the list.
I have also presented on VR Accessibility for Low Vision Users at a web conference in 2017, and have been advocating for and creating videos on several aspects of VR accessibility. You can find this playlist here:
(Unfortunately I haven’t been posting long enough to be allowed to post links yet, so it said when I tried submitting the post. Just look up the VR Accessibility Playlist on the IllegallySighted YouTube channel.).
I have also been trying to reach out directly to Oculus regarding many of these accessibility problems and suggestions, with limited luck. I hope this thread is helpful for some users and developers, and I would love to work with Oculus and other developers however I can to improve accessibility for low vision and legally blind users like myself. Speaking from first hand experience, there are a lot of us out there that would love to also be a part of VR and don’t want to be left out.