At Reality Labs, one of our core Responsible Innovation Principles is to consider everyone as we develop new products—after all, inclusive design is good design, and our products benefit from design practices that take everyone into account. Whether it’s hardware or software, we need to be inclusive of our diverse community. This is especially true as we help to build the metaverse. One area of focus for us is making our products more accessible for people with disabilities. Today, in honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, we’re sharing a look at some of the features we’ve rolled out across our hardware products over the past year to do just that.
Since their launch in September 2021, Ray-Ban Stories have helped people capture photos and videos hands-free with voice commands. Use your voice to send messages, hear message readouts of incoming messages and make calls all via Messenger. Whether you’re listening to music or your favorite podcast, you can use your voice to pause/resume, skip, and adjust the volume. You can also adjust these controls by using the touchpad on the right temple of your glasses. And if you’re curious how much battery life you have left, you can check with a simple voice command.
The Meta Portal family of video-calling devices lets you connect with friends, family and colleagues—and our AI-powered Smart Camera keeps the action in frame, all hands-free. Last year, we partnered with ZP Better Together to bring Video Relay Services to Portal in support of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Portal also offers highly customizable closed captions for streamed video content. Integrated productivity apps Zoom and Workplace also support live captions. And for people with limited vision, Portal provides color correction, conversion, high contrast, font resizing, and the Talkback screen reader.
Over the last year, Meta Quest introduced a new Accessibility tab in the Settings menu with two new accessibility features: Color Correction, which helps people who are color blind more easily distinguish colors within the headset, and Adjust Height, a feature that gives people the option to view VR in a “standing” mode even if they’re physically seated. This week we launched two new audio features in our v40 software update –Mono Audio and Audio Balance– to make Meta Quest headsets more customizable for people who are hard of hearing. These features let you customize the audio and volume between the left and right speakers on the headset.
Whether you’re in VR or on social media, it’s important to be able to represent yourself. We recently expanded our 3D Avatars beyond VR to Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram Stories and DMs. To help people better represent themselves, we added cochlear implants and over-the-ear hearing aids (for one or both ears) in a variety of colors and on all platforms, including VR. And we also added wheelchairs, which will appear in stickers on Facebook, in Messenger chats, and in DMs on Instagram.
We also want to help our developer community be as inclusive as possible to make sure that everyone can participate and enjoy new worlds and realities together. That’s why we introduced a set of Virtual Reality Checks (VRCs) that are focused on ensuring the applications on our platform are more accessible for people with disabilities. We also partnered with fellow members of the XR Association and XR accessibility advocates to develop and publish a comprehensive resource, Accessibility & Inclusive Design in Immersive Experiences.
While we’re proud of the steps we’ve taken to make our products more accessible to people with disabilities, there’s still more work to be done. To that end, we’re exploring the field of hearing sciences in a bid to help push the industry forward and put people with hearing impairments on par with those whose hearing is unimpaired. It’s early days, but the promise of helping people stay better connected with friends and family as their hearing fades is an exciting one.
We look forward to sharing more as our accessibility work progresses.
Reality Labs brings together a world-class team of researchers, developers, and engineers to build the future of connection within virtual and augmented reality.