Skip to main content

Culture 4 all: accessibility-enabled cultural experiences through immersive VR360 content


The use of virtual reality (VR) technologies and, in particular, of VR360 content can provide great benefits in the society. This particularly applies to the culture and heritage sectors, where venues, goods and events can be digitalised to provide hyper-realistic and engaging experiences, anywhere and anytime. Despite significant advances in the field of VR, there is still an unexplored aspect which is crucial for every service and experience where user interaction is expected: accessibility. This article firstly reviews the needs, challenges and limitations for making VR360 experiences accessible. Based on these facts, an end-to-end platform to efficiently integrate accessibility services within VR360 content is presented. The platform encompasses all steps from media authoring to media consumption, but special attention is given to the accessibility-enabled VR360 player, as it is the end user interaction interface. The presentation modes for the supported access services (like subtitling, audio description and sign language), interaction modalities and personalisation features supported by the player are described. To conclude, the availability of newly created and adapted culture-related accessible VR360 content is explored, as a proof of the potential of the contributions work in this sector.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12


  1. Last Access in November 2019

  2. Last Access in November 2019

  3. Last Access in November 2019

  4. NYT VR Last Access in November 2019

  5. NYT The Daily 360 Last Access in November 2019

  6. VR360 videos created by NYT Last Access in November 2019

  7. VR360 playlist of the NYT Youtube channel Last Access in November 2019

  8. VR Gorilla Youtube channel: Access in November 2019

  9. Dali Museum VR360 Experience: Last Access in November 2019

  10. Link to the Dali VR360 video on Youtube: Last Access in November 2019

  11. VR360 videos produced within the scope of Google Arts & Culture project: Last Access in November 2019



  1. Kwiatek K, Woolner M (2009) Embedding interactive storytelling within still and video panoramas for cultural heritage sites, 15th International Conference on Virtual Systems and Multimedia, Vienna (Austria)

  2. Sylaiou S, Kasapakis V, Dzardanova E, Gavalas D (2018) Leveraging mixed reality technologies to enhance museum visitor experiences, International Conference on Intelligent Systems (IS) (pp. 595–601)

  3. Bekele MK, Pierdicca R, Frontoni E, Malinverni ES, Gain J (2018) A survey of augmented, virtual, and mixed reality for cultural heritage. Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage 11(2):7

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. Ch’ng E, Cai Y, Thwaites H (2018) Special issue on VR for culture and heritage: the experience of cultural heritage with virtual reality: guest editors’ introduction. Presence 26(03):iii–ivi

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Segura-Garcia J, Montagud M, Mirasol-Menacho S, Oleza-Simó J (2019) Theatrical virtual acoustic rendering with head movement interaction. AI EDAM (Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing) 33(3):359–368

    Article  Google Scholar 

  6. Diamond J (1994) Sex differences in science museums: a review. Curator 37(1):17–23

    Article  Google Scholar 

  7. Kitson A, Prpa M, Rieck BE (2018) Immersive interactive technologies for positive change: a scoping review and design considerations. Front Psychol 9:1354.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  8. WHO Factsheets, Deafness and hearing loss: Last access in May 2019

  9. WHO Factsheets, Blindness and vision impairment: Last access in May 2019

  10. European Commission (2018) The 2018 ageing report: economic and budgetary projections for the EU Member States (2016–2070), Institutional Paper 079 EC, ISBN 978-92-79-77460-7

  11. AGE (2019) Age Platform Report 2019

  12. EUROSTAT (2019) Population structure and ageing

  13. EPRS (2014) European Parliament Research Service. Older people in Europe EU policies and programmes.

  14. EUROSTAT (2017) Culture statistics - cultural participation by socioeconomic background

  15. UNESCO (N.d.) Promoting participation in arts and cultural activities by the elderly.

  16. Goss J, Kollmann EK, Reich C, Iacovelli S (2015) Understanding the multilingualism and communication of museum visitors who are d/deaf or hard of hearing. Museums & Social Issues 10(1):52–65

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. O’hare M (1975) Why do people go to museums? The effect of prices and hours on museum utilization1. Mus Int 27(3):134–146

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. O’hagan JW (1995) National museums: to charge or not to charge? J Cult Econ 19(1):33–47

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Liao MH (2018) Museums and creative industries: the contribution of translation studies. Journal of Specialised Translation 29:45–62

    Google Scholar 

  20. UNESCO (2005) The Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions

  21. UN (2006) Convention of Rights of People with Disabilities

  22. Directive on the Accessibility of Websites and Mobile Applications,

  23. WACAG 2.0

  24. Mandate 376

  25. Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD),

  26. European Accessibility Act

  27. AGULLÓ, Belén; Pilar Orero and Anna Matamala (2018) “From disabilities to capabilities: testing subtitles in immersive environments with end users”. Hikma 17, pp. 195–220. Online version: <>

  28. Matamala A (2014) Audio describing text on screen, A Maszerowska, Anna; Matamala, Anna; Orero, Pilar (eds.) Audio description. New perspectives illustrated. Amsterdam: Bnejamins: 103-120

  29. Matamala A, Orero P (eds) (2010) Listening to subtitles. Subtitling for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Peter Lang, Berna

    Google Scholar 

  30. Rodriguez A, Talavera G, Orero P, Carrabina J (2012) Subtitle synchronization across multiple screens and devices. Sensors 12(7):8710–8731

    Article  Google Scholar 

  31. Orero P, Martín CA, Zorrilla M, HBB4ALL: Deployment of HbbTV services for all, IEEE BMSB’15, Ghent (Belgium), June 2015

  32. M. Montagud, F. Boronat, J. González, J. Pastor, Web-based platform for subtitles customization and synchronization in multi-screen scenarios, ACM TVX 2017, Hilversum (The Netherlands), June 2017

  33. Hu Y, Kautz J, Yu Y, Wang W, Speaker-following video subtitles, ACM TOMCCAP, 11, 2, Article 32, 17 pages, 2015

  34. European Broadcasting Union (EBU) Recommendation R95, “Safe areas for 16:9 television production”,, Last Access in August 2019

  35. AA Brown, et al. Exploring subtitle behaviour for 360° video, White Paper WHP 330, 2018

  36. S Rothe, T Kim, H Hussmann, Dynamic subtitles in cinematic virtual reality, ACM TVX 2018 conference, Seoul (South Korea), June 2018

  37. Hybrid Broadcast Broadband TV (HbbTV) 2.0.2 Specification, HbbTV Association Resource Library,, September 2018

  38. Fryer L (2016) An introduction to audio description. Routledge

  39. Maszerowska A, Matamala A, Orero P (eds) (2014) Audio description. New perspectives illustrated. Benjamins, Amsterdam

    Google Scholar 

  40. Matamala A, Orero P (eds) (2016) Researching audio description. New approaches. Palgrave Macmillan, London

    Google Scholar 

  41. Fidyka A, Matamala A (2018) Audio description in 360° videos: results from focus groups in Barcelona and Kraków. Translation Spaces 7(2):285–303

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Orero P, Montagud M, Matamala A, Torres E, Mata J (Forthcoming) Audio subtitles or spoken subtitles/captions: an ecological media accessibility service, Professional Communication and Translation Studies

  43. Bernabé R, Orero P (2019) Easy to read as multimode accessibility service. Hermeneus 21

  44. Montagud M, Boronat F, Belda J, Marfil D, Use of web components to develop interactive, customizable and multi-device video consumption platforms, Communications in Computer and Information Science (CCIS), volume 605, Springer-Verlag, April 2016

  45. Sodagar I (2011) The mpeg-dash standard for multimedia streaming over the internet. IEEE Multimedia 18(4):62–67

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. B. Agulló, M. Montagud, I. Fraile, Making interaction with virtual reality accessible: rendering and guiding methods for subtitles, AI EDAM (Artificial Intelligence for Engineering Design, Analysis and Manufacturing), Accepted for Publication in 2019

  47. B. Agulló, The challenge of implementing SDH in immersive media: a reception study, Media for All International Conference, Estocolm (Sweden), June 2019,

  48. E. Oncins, R. Bernabé, M. Montagud, V. Arnáiz, Accessible scenic arts and virtual reality: a pilot study with older adults about user preferences when reading subtitles in immersive environments, MonTi journal, Accepted for Publication in 2020

Download references


This work has been partially funded by European Union’s Horizon 2020 program, under agreement No. 761974 (ImAc project). Work by Mario Montagud has been additionally funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities with a Juan de la CiervaIncorporación grant, with reference IJCI-2017-34611, and by Fundación BBVA with a ‘Beca Leonardo a Investigadores y Creadores Culturales 2018’. Work by Pilar Orero and Anna Matamala has been additionally funded by the Catalan Government with the funded TransMedia Catalonia research group, with reference 2019SGR113.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Mario Montagud.

Additional information

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Montagud, M., Orero, P. & Matamala, A. Culture 4 all: accessibility-enabled cultural experiences through immersive VR360 content. Pers Ubiquit Comput 24, 887–905 (2020).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • 360° video
  • Accessibility
  • Cultural heritage
  • Culture
  • User interaction
  • Virtual reality
  • VR360