What is the Metaverse?
“You can think of the Metaverse as an embodied Internet, where instead of just viewing content, you’re in it.” – Mark Zuckerberg (CEO, Meta)
Imagine a virtual world where you could become someone else or a different version of yourself. In it, you can do (almost) everything you do in the physical world – working, shopping, playing games, and meeting people.
Well, that’s what the Metaverse aims to be – a fully immersive alternative to the physical world, but hopefully, one without most of its limitations.
💡Read also: Why Web Accessibility Matters
The Metaverse harnesses the power of several products and technologies. These include Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, the Internet of Things, Blockchain, and more.
Essentially, the Metaverse represents a world where technology is not just a tool, but an all-encompassing aspect of life.
Tech giant Facebook recently changed its company name to “Meta” in a clever move to align its brand with the Metaverse trend.
Other big brands like Shutterstock (with Turbosquid by Shutterstock) and NVIDIA (with the NVIDIA Omniverse) have launched Metaverse projects.
With all this buzz, it is important to ask – how can ensure the Metaverse is accessible to everyone
Accessibility and Marketing in the Metaverse
The metaverse is quickly taking shape amid a growing effort to make virtual worlds accessible. Around 1.85 billion people worldwide live with a disability. That’s a pretty large user base for an accessible metaverse.
One key to marketing is constantly keeping the target audience engaged and interested in what you’re offering. The Metaverse offers marketers the opportunity to engage with customers in new ways and enhance brand creativity. Some recommendations to achieve this are:
1. Make sure all media have accessibility features.
You can’t create inclusive experiences if your users can’t find or use accessibility features in your media. Voice-based virtual assistants like Google Assistant can help customers with limited mobility and visual impairments interact better with your business and other customers.
In addition, customers with hearing impairments or who suffer from anxiety might find it more helpful to use chat options than to make calls.
2. Support mixed reality experiences
Mixed reality is a fusion of the real and virtual worlds where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time. Supporting such experiences could prove very useful for customers with disabilities.
For instance, a mobile app paired with augmented reality (AR) glasses can help customers with limited mobility or visual impairments to navigate their surroundings easily.
3. Don’t go overboard with sensory input
Allow people to stick to the basics if they wish. Remember that many neurodivergent people find excess sensory input overstimulating. So you should provide the option to turn things off. This flexibility also benefits customers who may not have fast internet connections or do not want to spend too much time exploring the metaverse.
What Can Be Done?
Web developers can lead the pack. As you build products, incorporate accessibility best practices. Additionally, developers can set up workshops, conferences, etc, to promote the inclusive practice of web accessibility.
Secondly, videos will be a huge part of the Metaversal experience. Closed captions, transcripts should always be provided for content streamed or hosted in the Metaverse.
Clearly, the metaverse offers companies vast opportunities for brand building and marketing. Representation matters, and with the metaverse, we have an opportunity to get it right from the beginning. Therefore, it is vital that Metaverse developers build virtual worlds and experiences with inclusivity and accessibility in mind.