One of the most important goals for brands, educational institutions and businesses in the past few years is to promote inclusivity and diversity in the workplace. The reason is simple; apart from an ethical point of view, enhancing inclusivity means enhancing performance.
AR, due to its highly adaptable and immersive nature, is ideal to reduce barriers and create opportunities for marginalized groups and underserved communities, or to make experiences available to people who would otherwise be unable to access them because of geographic distance.
As this report by ITIF states, there are some specific key areas of opportunity for AR to support broader equity and inclusion: «leveraging its potential as an empathy tool, adapting its capabilities to meet the needs of users with disabilities, and mitigating barriers that arise from physical distance to strengthen communities and enhance person-to-person interactions across locations.»
In this article we will explore all the ways in which AR encourages inclusivity, beginning with the education field.
AR for promoting inclusivity in education and academic institutions
AR enhances learning flows in many different ways, but what can be greatly improved by the implementation of this technology is the inclusion of the students with various impairments into the educational process.
For example, Augmented Reality can help students with visual impairments, manipulating the contrasts, text sizes, adding audio commentary and making them more involved in the class environment.
Also, thanks to the high level of engagement and the level of interactivity requested, it can be helpful for students with attention deficit disorders and hyperactivity disorder. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reporting in fact, the diagnoses of ADHD among K-12 schoolers are continuing to rise with over 5.7 million children currently being diagnosed.
AR technology experiences help students focus and make the lectures, and exercises more immersive, interactive, and engaging, becoming a feasible solution for seizing students’ focus and attention.
AR can address Bias Through Empathy
One of the unique advantages of AR over other digital solutions is its ability to place the user in any setting or scenario. With AR, users can view and interact with changes to their physical surroundings in real-time, and feel like they are “really there” in a virtual experience.
The engaging AR or WebAR experiences can be used as a tool to raise awareness and build empathy. For example, manipulating a user’s field of vision, audio, and surroundings to show users what it is like to live a life with a disability.
Immersive experiences can increase awareness, and aid in promoting social change to mitigate the harmful impacts of racism, ableism, sexism, and other forms of bias.
Improving Access to Opportunities
Efforts to build more inclusive spaces are often constrained by physical limitations. Individuals with mobility impairments or other disabilities, social anxieties, or those who would have to travel long distances, could find themselves at a disadvantage when physical presence is required.
While not a substitute for accessible spaces, immersive technologies are a perfect fit to overcome the limitations of physical space to create more accessible experiences.
For this reason, AR technologies are adopted as workplace productivity tools, training solutions, entertainment systems, and social platforms, since they can make social and professional spaces more accessible to people with disabilities, impairments or any kind of physical and geographical limitations.
Even more than traditional AR, WebAR is the ideal solution to widen access to Augmented Reality: WebAR platforms like Aryel aim to democratize this technology and make it possible for everyone to create their own WebAR campaigns, and share them via a simple-URL, overcoming budget constraints and also making it simple to users to access content directly on their smartphones.
WebAR has the potential to build a world that is more inclusive, equitable, and accessible and can help create new equity and inclusion opportunities for everyone.