Universal Access in the Information Society

, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp 261–272 | Cite as

Gaze interaction with virtual on-line communities: levelling the playing field for disabled users

Long Paper

Abstract

This paper introduces the concept of enabling gaze-based interaction for users with high-level motor disabilities to control an avatar in a first-person perspective on-line community. An example community, Second Life, is introduced that could offer disabled users the same virtual freedom as any other user, and so allow disabled users to be able-bodied (should they wish) within the virtual world. A survey of the control demands for Second Life and a subsequent preliminary experiment show that gaze control has inherent problems particularly for locomotion and camera movement. These problems result in a lack of effective gaze control of Second Life, such that control is not practical and show that disabled users who interact using gaze will have difficulties in controlling Second Life (and similar environments). This suggests that these users could once again become disabled in the virtual world by the difficulties in effectively controlling their avatars, and their ‘disability privacy’, or the right to control an avatar as effectively as an able bodied user, and so appear virtually able bodied, will be compromised. Methods for overcoming these difficulties such as the use of gaze aware on-screen assistive tools could overcome these problems, but games manufacturers must design inclusively, so that disabled users may have the right to disability privacy in their Second (virtual) Lives.

Keywords

Eye gaze Assistive technology On-line communities Second life COGAIN 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human–Computer Interaction Research GroupDe Montfort UniversityThe Gateway, LeicesterUK

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