Keynote Talk | Inclusive XR at Scale: The Nth Floor

Keynote Talk | Inclusive XR at Scale: The Nth Floor

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Hi everyone, my name is Bill Curtis-Davidson  and I co-direct the Partnership on Employment   and Accessible Technology also known as PEAT, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor's Office   of Disability Employment Policy as a founding  member of XR Access. PEAT aims to help ensure   that immersive workplace technologies are born  accessible. Today I am honored to introduce this   year's keynote by Accenture and I’m joined by Liz  Hyman. Thanks Bill and hello everyone as Bill said   my name is Liz Hyman and I serve as the CEO of  the XR Association also known as XRA. We're a   non-profit industry trade association representing  the broad ecosystem of the XR industry.  

We promote the responsible development and  thoughtful advancement of virtual augmented   and mixed reality and we have been a proud  strategic advisor to the XR Access initiative.   Last year PEAT and XRA collaborated on a joint  white paper, Inclusive XR in the Workplace,   that highlights the potential of XR to support  inclusive and accessible work environments across   industries this white paper is designed to help  orgs navigate the adoption of immersive tech   as part of their digital transformation  it outlines how accessible immersive tech   can help employers upskill and empower an  increasingly diverse workforce especially in high   growth high demand jobs Bill I want to thank PEAT  for collaborating with XRA on this very important   white paper which can help orgs accelerate their  digital transformations with disability inclusion   in mind and when they do so benefits like improved  job training and enhanced collaboration can be   realized at scale giving them a competitive edge  in a very tight labor market. In XRA’s 2021 report   Insights And Industry Trends for HR and Learning  Development, we surveyed 250 HR professionals   and found that 81 of HR professionals have already  widely adopted XR for learning and development   and 61 percent of those surveyed believed XR will  help them provide expanded work opportunities   for talent located throughout the us given the  increased use of XR in hybrid workplaces PEAT   developed the inclusive XR and hybrid work  tool kit to help employers better understand   how to consider accessibility when procuring and  implementing XR tech the toolkit provides tips   on fostering a culture of inclusion and  accessibility engaging in accessibility dialogue   between procurement consultants and suppliers  and getting involved in community efforts   like XR Access we're so excited to see enterprises  like Accenture adopting XR with inclusion in mind.   In a moment Accenture will talk about their  own enterprise metaverse known as the nth floor   which are virtual environments they  created to bring central people together   to meet collaborate and learn in new ways whether  hosting meetings or socializing the metaverse is   a versatile scalable solution for bringing a  geographically distributed workforce together   with disability inclusion and accessibility in  mind. And now we'd like to welcome our keynote   speakers Jacque Madison and Marisol Villena  Salerno as director of product accessibility.   Jacque Madison is responsible for optimizing and  scaling global accessibility practices into the   fabric of digital experiences at Accenture. She  enables employees partners and clients to build  

buy and deliver solutions that contribute to  its lasting culture of equitable digital access   and inclusion .Marisol Villena Salerno manages  inclusion accessibility and equitable product and   program development across Accenture's enterprise  metaverse the nth floor enabling experiences that   allow all employees to participate and thrive.  Prior to that Marisol spent the last two decades   working in various roles across the company's  IT team. Welcome Jacque and Marisol. Thank you Bill, thank you Liz. Accenture is the  first enterprise to scale extended reality and the   metaverse while championing digital accessibility  and the inclusive design from ground zero.  

Hello everyone we are so happy to be here today  to help kick off the 2022 XR Access symposium.   This is an opportunity for us not only to  share but to learn from some of the most   innovative minds in the field. My name is Jacque  Madison and I’m here today with Marisol Villena   to share Accenture's journey  towards inclusive XR at scale.   I am a white woman with shoulder length hair  wearing a red sweater. I am currently serving   as the Director of Product Accessibility here at  Accenture and XR is my favorite digital product.  

Right now there is still so much work to be  done in this area and we have the ability   to build the world that we want to live in and  create more immersive and inclusive experiences.   So accessibility is very personal to me. It  allows my colleagues some of my family and friends   and even myself to interact with the  world fully and XR presents new ways   for us to engage and experience things  that we may not have been able to. Before  

this week I visited my grandmother the  matriarch of our family who is approaching the   end of her life and is unable to do most things  independently. I took this trip with my headset   in tow wanting to take her to the perfect  beach while she rests comfortably at home   but because of some of her mobility issues  right now navigating the out of the box controls   would have created a very frustrating  experience for her. So we sat and talked   instead. Personal use of XR has been the focus  of many of the solutions that we see today   the common perception is that  virtual reality and augmented reality   remain largely limited to the world of games  and entertainment but things are changing fast.  

During 2019 industrial spending on these  tools began to overtake consumer spending   the acceleration is such that by next year  industrial usage will be triple consumer usage   and the uses of XR broadening and deepening  as firms begin to realize their potential   68 of consumers said that COVID 19 elevated their  expectations of companies digital capabilities   and 60 said that COVID 19 is changing their  relationships with technology as a whole   companies see XR as a way to address business  challenges they're talking about AR capabilities   and applications with many large enterprises  beginning to evaluate and adopt AR or VR immersive   solutions is part of their digital transformation  strategy. 36 percent of executives identify   removing distance barriers is a driver in their  adoption of XR solutions industry spending and AR   and VR was expected to grow 134 between 2018 and  next year by next year it's expected that 35 of   businesses will adopt XR. Accenture has strived to  be the first in the market to power our enterprise   human experience with a seamless digital layer  allowing all employees to connect and collaborate. With just shy of 700,000 employees across 50  countries connection and collaboration has never   been more important and with numbers like that  the ability to scale shared experiences is so   critical. We know that people retain what they  learn in immersive VR 33% better and that task  

completion can increase by 17% but really people  are much more emotionally connected and engaged.   So uh here at Accenture 150,000 of our new joiners  have participated in Accenture's new VR program.   To date we've delivered over 60,000 VR headsets  to our people providing omni-connected experiences   and learning a lot on the way our current research  is focused not only on the broader experience   but on inclusion and accessibility  of both the hardware and software.

When we think about pushing the boundaries  between human ingenuity and technology we must   constantly be challenging the status quo.  And not just by going all in on emerging tech   but by curating innovative impactful and inclusive  experiences that go beyond just we have to   dream to delight and we need to create easily  consumable and accessible experiences for all. But how can we scale immersive  experiences without leaving people behind?   Bill a colleague of ours recently, he's a  visually impaired employee here at Accenture,   he was invited to his team's kickoff in the  new VR collaborative environment. Unfortunately   the current immersive experiences even in 2d  they are inaccessible to users of traditional   screen reader software. Lack of accessibility led  to friction in this scenario I think that most  

of us are here today because this is a difficult  problem to solve for. But we need to be imagining   a future that is increasingly accessible  and designs with these scenarios in mind. Lisa Berlini one of my colleagues  I work very closely with   she's an accessibility expert here at Accenture  and she's been using a wheelchair her entire life   she was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy  when she was six months old. For individuals  

with SMA things like walking breathing  talking and even swallowing can be difficult.   But with the incredible advancements in technology  they've helped Lisa function in her work as an   executive and have enabled independent living at  home at work. She finds the combination of her   mouth joystick and on-screen keyboard helpful  for typing she uses Dragon naturallyspeaking   speech recognition software for long term  segments for life at home. She has a robotic arm   attached to her electric wheelchair that  allows her to independently get a drink,   eat food, move her feet for comfort,  tidy up her home. She has increasingly   achieved new milestones of independence  in her personal and professional life.  

Lisa’s experiences speak directly to  the ways in which evolving technologies   can help advance accessibility and inclusion  for people with physical disabilities   and she's not alone Lisa is one of 75 of people  with disabilities who expect that technology will   play a more prominent role in their lives over  the next three years. So what does that mean   for your employees and your customers what might  that mean for the design of products and services. So when I said Lisa wasn't alone I meant it we  have with 15.1 million working age people living   with disabilities in the United States a failure  to design technologies with accessibility in mind   may mean costlier adaptations, overall loss in  productivity, and a reduction in quality of life.  

For the modern organization advancing inclusion  by using accessible technologies will help their   employees today and in the future, with 20% of  employees expected to experience the disability   of lasting more than a year. Organizations  need to be prepared to bridge those gaps in   digital accessibility for their employees  especially as workplace technologies evolve So now I guess I would like to introduce  Marisol to talk with you about how Accenture   is embodying digital accessibility by pioneering  inclusive design at the core of the metaverse   and talk to you about some of the amazing  work being done with our partners. Thank you Jacque. Hello everyone my name is  Marisol Villena, I am the Product Manager   for the Inclusive Metaverse product within the  Enterprise Metaverse Team here at Accenture.  

First of all I would like to introduce myself I  am a Latina woman dressing formally to this event   I am based in Spain and I have curly grey hair,  I’m very proud of it as it empowers me to feel   proud of who I am. But as a for your information  it has not been easy for me to feel comfortable   with it. I am joining from our accessibility  center here in Spain, with some assistive   technology that we offer to our employees. And  this is a place where they can come and see what  

we have available for them. This is my first time  in the XR Access symposium, it's a pleasure for   me to be with this group of extraordinary people  around the globe to discuss inclusive XR at scale   and our journey here at Accenture. The Inclusive  Metaverse Team the team that I am representing,   is a dedicated team created with the goal  of ensuring that accessibility, equitable   and inclusive experiences are in the core of  what we deliver in the enterprise metaverse.   Now that we have started to build  it for everyone at Accenture.   The first question that I would like to  share with a group is how we are building   these inclusive metaverse at scale,  so let's go to the next slide please. We are building the inclusive metaverse  at scale with inclusive design.  

Inclusive design aims to include someone in  the design process who was previously excluded   and let me use some of the great references  from the case of inclusive design developed   by Microsoft and some of the principles  we are using here in our design teams   at Accenture. The advantage of the enterprise  metaverse is that it is in its infancy. Therefore   as we deploy it at scale we can design  inclusive experiences as early as possible   in this journey so we don't leave anyone  behind. Why inclusive design is critical?   It's critical because it provides equitable,  inclusive, and accessible experiences to everyone   which are the benefits of inclusive design.  Let me share four of them. Amongst others   of inclusive experiences especially  applicable to the XR technologies   first benefit with increased access by providing  more opportunities to develop better experiences   leveraging XR technologies. Remember  XR opens a new set of opportunities and   solutions with this new tech. Second benefit  those experiences are more emotional context.   Inclusive design is more than just  design. Its understanding of the people,  

the understanding the humans, their mindset the  impact of the product's design. So in this case   the impact of XR as a new technology that comes to  stay at the workplace. It's important now that we   are just getting started with an opportunity  to build something inclusive from the start   third benefit it reduces friction because a  more accessible solution and inclusive benefits   everyone fourth benefit it is inclusive to all  people and prevent our people from being left   out from the metaverse. Let me give you a couple  of examples that represent that criticality it was   brought to my attention when having that having a  dedicated team for the inclusive metaverse in the   enterprise matters product to design employee  experiences develop to be developed here   and design with consistency across for every  Accenture employees, especially considering   how employee the technology is being used here  at Accenture because it can be used in such a   different way. Otherwise we risk of failing to  attempt to deploy it at scale. Just to highlight   the feedback that we got from Lisa or  Bill given by Jacque a few moments ago,   or the ongoing feedback that we received from  coming from our accommodation support tool,   which is a global tool deployed for everyone  at Accenture as a simple way for requesting   accommodation support or anything else that  anyone might need for being able to do their job.   So let's go to the next slide because this is  the summary that we have to build on one size   does not fit all which is why we are connecting  with individuals to get a personal insight into   their experiences and challenges for brainstorming  and and creating that tailored experience   we seek individuals in Accenture with a  permanent temporary or situational disability,   or if we refer to the social model of digital  inclusion, anyone where the environment in this   case the metaverse needs to be adapted to be  able to participate, to be able to access,   or have a sense of belonging, in this case to  feel included. Therefore it is important for  

us to tailor those experiences, because if not we  risk excluding people with different requirements   and falling short for achieving the  collective benefits of digital inclusion.   So which is the process that we are using for  building these metaverse at scale? So let's go to   the next slide. Okay we are building the inclusive  metaverse at scale as an iterative process with   three major components. First step define create  focus areas of a scope to get us started with. Second step of the process, connect, engage with   individuals from every group to get  feedback on their unique experiences. Third step of the process, determine experiences  as they become tangible via accessibility   features in the products to be used. Let me  elaborate a little bit more on those faces.   The first step of define, of  creating the focus areas, in our case   in Accenture we have started to focus on auditory,  cognitive, mobility, and visual, amongst other   areas that we know we exist, or even new ones,  because of the use of this new technology.  

For example a new challenge that we are now  aware of is allergies to device materials   because we have receiving cases of people  that are unable to use their VR device   because of that those allergies. So as we  recommend today is to use our two version   of that experience while we are working with  hardware hardware partners in order to identify   potential solutions on devices that can be free  of allergens. Like probably what we can have   available in the health industry. Second step  of the process connect, engage with individuals   from every group to get feedback.  We have the power of having a very   big employee research groups we call them  ergs as a voice and channel of communication.  

Ergs attack center are organized locally, so we  and we do have presence all over the globe in   Asia-Pacific, in Europe, and in America. We feel  very proud of the work that the ergs are doing   and their visibility is a success factor for the  integration of our vision with their initiatives.   We got feedback from those ergs up to date  and this is what we are right now processing   into feedback that we are going to implement into  the products that we are using in the metaverse.   Third step of the process, determine experiences.  Once we have the feedback we have the information   which we can share with ecosystem  partners and vendors to incorporate it   as they continue to define the applications  that are going to be used in the metaverse.  

We share those implementations back to  the ergs so they can get early feedback   on the proposed solutions before expanding and  this is how it becomes iterative we expand on   the feedback that we have received  and we formulate the path forward.   We implement the cadence to meet with those focus  groups with continual feedback and discussion.   So let's go to the next slide to tell  you a little bit of more on where we are.

So we are keeping the momentum. We  have defined the north star for the   inclusive metaverse product. Our vision  is to improve the employee experience   of anyone, especially especially but  not exclusively diverse employees,   by tailoring the standard process to overcome the  barriers that everyone may have on the technology   to use as part of the day-to-day work  in the metaverse. We improved employee  

experience by incorporating inclusion  guidelines baked into a normalized process   that need to be followed by the enterprise  metaverse teams, creating a lasting culture of   digital inclusion which are the objective and key  results they represent the baby steps that we are   taking towards achieving this north star that  guide us. Those baby steps can be in the form   of defining a set of guidelines that need  to be used by Accenture or our vendors   or do accessibility testing. Barrage in  those guidelines that we have just created,   or in the inclusive space defining which are the  behaviors that represent inclusion, which is going   to be one step forward being accessible. We have  set attainable goals because this is a journey  

and the first step of this journey is get to score  zero, and we will continue to grow after that.   We expect hurdles across this journey knowing that  XR is in a very early stage we know that we are   trailblazers as part of this journey. So  we expect hurdles as we define the path   that then everyone else can then follow. Those  hurdles can be in the form of technology readiness   or adoption to the new work that we are  going to do with this modern, new technology.   And we will in a process where we celebrate  success. It's important for us to celebrate  

the important milestones that we have achieved  during this journey, and I am bringing two   examples that represent those milestones that  we have achieved. So let's go to the next slide.   Given that Accenture champions inclusive  design with ecosystem partners and pushing   innovation beyond limitations. I am  bringing the two examples that are   displayed in images that I am presenting.  The first image is about Talespin.   Talespin is a partner for immersive learning  that we are using in enterprise metaverse. This  

example represents how we approach accessibility  when working with partners and vendors. It's   important to highlight that this is not a single  company effort we work with partners and we push   them to ensure that the product to be used in  Accenture should must be accessible, following   the accessibility guidelines. So in other words  we are really pushing the entire ecosystem. We have be seen this when we have been managing  previous relationship based on the work that we   have been doing in accessibility in the past.  And this is what the process that we are going   to follow going forward when we implement  the technology that we are going to use   in the metaverse. The second image that we have  in this screen is about a person from our team  

in Brazil, his name is Sergio, he's blind and  he has been developing interesting solutions   for navigation that we are going to explore on  how to leverage for the enterprise metaverse.   The difference in this example that is that in  this case the solution is built within Accenture.   So let's go to the next slide to talk a little  bit more about the solution that Sergio has has   created. The first question that I would  like to share with all the group here is   what is augmented reality for the visual impaired? This was the first challenge  that Sergio had when he joined   the Accenture's liquid studio. He shared  his perspective of what augmented reality is   and Sergio built an ultrasound device  and an app to help augment his senses.  

He did not have any haptic devices by that  time but improvised using a couple of mobile   phone vibration motors in a wristband to show  him direction and guide him using spatial sound.   After the initial version of the app Sergio  worked using a 3d audio in a smart glass   to help him navigate in unknown places by  identifying objects, distance, direction,   Sergio has perfect perception of depth in  the 3d audio is more accurate than mine,   which makes the technology especially  important for screenless navigation scenarios.   So let's play a video where Sergio can  explain a little bit more in detail about this   solution that he has built.  Can we please play the video. Okay. So Um Is Will continue to work in that POC but now what  I would like to do is I would like to share with   you another example in this case the example of  cell speed so let's go to the next slide please   okay so a little bit to get us  started with with. What is Talespin?   Talespin is an immersive learning company, an  Accenture is working with Talespin on pioneering   inclusive design of accessibility features  for workforce talent development and immersive   learning platform, which is Talespin’s vision  statement, deliver a reality where fun effective   and continuous learning drives prosperity for all.  A little bit about Talespin’s VR training modules,  

Talespin learning modules enable learners to  develop crucial soft skills through role play with   virtual human characters through advanced VR,  human animations, conversational interactions,   and voice input. Talespin content delivers  a level of quality and user engagement   beyond what is typically possible through  role play and remote learning solutions like   e-learning or traditional video. So let's go to  the to the next slide to talk about a little bit   more about the accessibility features. They also  have been an approach on accessibility in virtual  

reality and where they are today. Talespin modules  are currently in the state of beta testing,   and Talespin is in the process of integrating  accessibility enabling features. There are three   ways how Talespin is enabling accessibility  into their XR models. First via new features,   second via expanding the  functionality of an existing feature,   third we are using a new feature integration  through learning design. So in the next slide   I will talk a little bit more about those  examples. But before doing that. I wanted  

to give a brief overview of Talespin accessibility  journey. The step one of the process of how they   started into this accessibility journey is by  reviewing the XR industry standards. We all know   that there is no one place to go for accessibility  guidance in the XR, so we need to pick and choose   from these certain places. So in this case we  can go to the XR Access, the XR Association,  

the WCAG guidelines. Are also in section 508. The  second step of the process is to the accessibility   team to create a list of requirements. The  goal of this preliminary list of criteria   is to get an overview of the requirements and  propose a preliminary list of solution approaches.   This matrix will help empathize with the users  and to allow ally how to meet their needs. The   third step of the process is the prioritization  of the requirements to be further designed   and integrated. After considering the short-term  and long-term solutions to meet the user's needs,   the engineering team evaluates the technical  feasibility and scope and prioritization is   just one the way of ordering which one go first  because of the impact, or the quick wins, or the   complexity, for approaching them. So let's go to  this next slide to talk a little bit more in depth  

on these features. Okay so the first example  that I am bringing today is a new feature,   enable accessibility for mobility and speech  impairment. So in this as part of the process   Talespin define with what is a minimum viable  product of this feature, and what is the feature   of the future state. So in the in this slide I  am sharing two images. The first image represents   a training a scenario, including a role play,  of a person asking a question to the trainee and   for the trainee need to answer, with you selecting  one of the three options presented. In the current   approach for selecting the correct answer the  trainee used voice input for the selection,   but the accessibility feature incorporates that  now they have the option to additionally to voice   input, thus being implemented gaze input,  so now Talespin gives the option to use gaze   for input. The selection of the correct  answer. And this is what I am displaying   in the second image. Which is the same  role play scenario. But in this case  

how the person can select the option is using gaze  input. Accessibility is about giving alternatives.   If we use as a reference what we know  from web accessibility content guidelines   and digital experiences, we extrapolate that into  the VR technology, which means give additional   ways to interactions for the users depending on  their needs. And let's go to an example. Great.   In this example we have enabling functionality  via existing features, so in this case enabling   accessibility, for hearing impairment. I am  also here displaying two examples, two images,   the first image represents a conversation  happening as part of the training.   And in this in and in the solution  that they have available today.   There is a functionality called word highlight  displayed at the bottom of the screen, which is   being used for reinforcing an important message.  And how this can become an accessibility feature?  

The functionality of word highlight is expanded  into closed captions, so this can help users   with hearing impairment or as a matter of fact  anyone who is interested in using closed captions   right? So in this case they are expanding  the functionality of an existing feature   into new features. So thanks to this modular  functionality of current features, they can   expand into these features without compromising  backward compatibility. So let's go to our next   and last example this is non-feature integration  through learning design. And this is not a feature  

right. Make accessibility requirements as part  of the production pipeline is a requirement.   This is this is a standard practice that  needs to be happening during development,   and in this third example we are also presenting  two images. The first image represents a role play   where the image of a person watching the  trainee implicitly expects a response from   the trainee. And this is not 100 obvious. So in  the second image the proposed solution includes  

leveraging a multiple choice option  available already in the learning module   to make it more understandable what  is the expectation from the learning.   The trainee is expected to provide input, which  is what is happening in the second image. The   reduction of cognitive overload can be achieved by  providing efficient context on the conversation.   This can be either a response of the VR to human  or a contextual description of the narrative.   So this is all for my side. I hope that you have  enjoyed knowing a little bit more about how we   are approaching the inclusive metaverse. The  examples that we have provided can be used as an  

inspiration for a potential accessibility features  that you would like to implement in your solution,   and how inclusion in the metaverse looks like. So  I would like to now go and go back to you Jacque. I thank you so much Marisol. I am so proud to  be a part of this journey here at Accenture.   So to close I would like to highlight a few  key takeaways. Uh first you know we need to   incorporate accessibility as early as possible  into our digital solutions. Second this is a   journey but just taking steps every day will bring  us closer to the goal of equal access for all.  

And lastly XR solutions are full of opportunities   right now to design experiences that will  allow everyone to be part of virtual reality.   So thank you all for tuning in to our  discussion, we will now take a break.

2022-08-02 11:46

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