Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Utilizing Digital Actuality To Open Doorways For These With Disabilities

Technological advances enable new experiences

This March was an important milestone for me and my family.

Fifteen years ago, my father had an ATV accident in which he was paralyzed from the middle of the chest down. The sudden change in his mobility has changed my family’s life tremendously. We no longer had family hikes in the mountains, ATV rides in the desert, or basketball tournaments in the backyard. We had to move to a new house that had no stairs.

It also opened our eyes to the shameful state of the world around us when it comes to meeting ADA requirements in restaurants, shops, and other public places. In a desperate attempt to get back to normal in the months following the accident, we tried to go out to eat. Our family’s favorite restaurant was very wheelchair accessible so optimistically we went to another favorite a while later to find out that they were inaccessible and had never seen it as a real problem.

Well, my dad let them know they were breaking the law for not being ADA compliant and pointing out how much money he’d spent at their facility in the past year alone. The manager then came out and said, “We’ll bring you in.” He led our family to the back of the store and pulled us through the kitchen and then into the main dining area. It wasn’t long before they added a ramp to their main entrance.

Dad started a blog that rated various public sites for their ADA compliance and found many others doing the same. He assessed the Disneyland experience from the perspective of a wheelchair-bound person. While we were paying extra attention at Disney, we noticed that several groups were using the wheelchair policy with no questions asked and even noticed a group of teenagers taking turns in wheelchairs throughout the day.

It’s been 15 years now. My wife never knew her father-in-law as a person able to work. My kids will never know their grandfather as a 6-foot, 2-inch man, but rather a 4-foot, 7-inch man.

However, it’s not all sad. Papa’s notoriety in the community he lives in has encouraged companies everywhere to make their facilities wheelchair accessible. There’s even a restaurant that’s in a historic building that isn’t able to change the accessibility of their entrance, but they’ve created take-out accommodations so that it goes off to order at Dad’s car.

We also found ways to spend time with dad outdoors and have adventures again. He bought a recumbent handwheel which he drives a lot, and every Independence Day we drive 20 miles down the Wasatch Front.

A family friend, known online as Jerry Rig Everything, reached out to Dad to see if he would be ready to try out an off-road power wheelchair called The Rig. After doing his part, he bought the final model and can now spend time with us in the mountains and on hiking trails. As a bonus, the grandchildren love to ride on it too! Another bonus for the grandchildren? Grandpa’s house is all on the ground floor with very even wooden floors on which you can drive scooters and trikes, which bring back many wonderful memories and fill the house with laughter.

With advances in technology and increasing awareness of the challenges facing people with disabilities, we are sure to find more and more solutions to these challenges.

A surprising solution

Another surprising solution emerged through my work at eLearning Brothers.

  • The problem
    My father has never been to my house or my siblings’ house because of the number of stairs and tight turns in the entrances.
  • solution
    CenarioVR® makes it easy to capture any room and can be deployed using immersive technology so Dad can take a virtual tour of each of our homes.
  • Tools needed
    CenarioVR subscription, a 360 degree camera (I used a GoPro Max [1]) and tripod as well as a Google Cardboard [2] or similar headset. We could have deployed on a desktop as well if a rich experience hadn’t been the ultimate goal.
  • process
    I used a GoPro MAX 360 camera and used the video feature instead of pictures. To keep the footage in a manageable format, I shot it in 3k instead of 5k or 6k, even though I had that option, and kept each of my clips at around 20 seconds.

Determining the height of the tripod was interesting. My original plan was to have it as close to the ground as possible so that the tripod legs don’t spread too far. Ultimately, I decided to put the camera at my dad’s eye level that I valued (it turned out I wasn’t very close).

Using virtual reality to open doors for people with disabilities

Knowing I was going to give Dad this experience in an Oculus Quest, I decided to start the tours outside of my home. This created the experience of coming to my house and walking through the front door.

Once inside, dad can choose how to move around the house. I’ve included hotspots and little arrows so that he can decide which room to move into.

CenarioVR’s text box utility was very helpful when it came to spaces that we didn’t want to capture, such as B. the laundry room or the (packed) storage room. We also noticed that some of the small rooms, such as B. the bathroom, when viewing in the headset, did not have a very pleasant experience, so we thought about which we would include in the tour.

After he left the house, we made navigating to the other houses very easy, with more hotspots and labels of where to go. In total, we built three houses as part of the tour, each of which had transport arrows outside.

We gave actual tours in two of the three houses as if Dad had come to visit. My brother and his wife are pictured here waving to Dad. Then they told him about the important items in each room. It added a nice personal touch.

In my house, my four year old gave the grandpa his child’s perspective in every room – while wearing only his underwear – providing the true experience of an average day at my house.

Using virtual reality to open doors for people with disabilities

We also found that Dad walked through some rooms more than once because if he looked in the opposite direction of the tour guide, he saw some sort of Easter egg, like my brother’s dog excitedly watching “dog TV” [1]. ”


We showed my father one Sunday when we were all gathered in his house. We put him in the headset and used the Quest screencast feature to broadcast what he saw on TV. We sat as quietly as possible and listened to our own voices as he led through our houses. Sometimes dad would reply to his digital host, especially when his grandson said, “This is the kitchen we eat in, what’s your favorite food grandpa?” He also made comments like “I didn’t know you had that much counter space” and “Wow, this room is beautifully decorated!” He then thanked each of us for putting the work into sharing our homes with him. He also pointed out that he had been in two of these three houses in real life but only in one or two rooms due to mobility issues so he could really see it all and appreciate that.

How does this relate to eLearning?

In VR-related webinars, I am often asked about accessibility. For most eLearning developers, of course, accessibility is a concern for the visually or hearing impaired. Lectora® is a fantastic tool for delivering courses that meet these accessibility requirements.

However, virtual reality has opened doors in a different way by enabling people to go where they just couldn’t go otherwise. Dad can tour his children’s houses. I can visit places on the other side of the world without leaving my living room. And in the training world, we can take people to a virtual conference at a time of social distance or on a helicopter flight to study ruins without paying for plane tickets. And now that I’ve done this home tour, I can see the value of virtual reality as a real estate sales tool.

Is virtual reality accessible in the traditional sense?

No, but it’s a tool that has helped me and changed my life for the better.


[1] Go Pro Max

[2] Google Cardboard

[3] DOGTV Stimulation: Park Life in San Francisco

eBook publication: CenarioVR


CenarioVR is an easy-to-use VR authoring and training tool that allows you to create a comprehensive study in minutes – without coding. Courses can be accessed via the web or the native app (available on 11 platforms). Part of the eLearning Brothers Authoring Suites.

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