Virtual Reality for Middle / High School Students with Disabilities

Hi everyone!

My name is Vivian Ng and I am a sophomore studying computer science here at Pace University. For the upcoming academic year, I will be working with Dr. James Lawler and the AHRC Middle/High School (MHS) on an in-depth research project focusing primarily on virtual reality and how it is able to benefit people, specifically students, with disabilities. Before I go into more detail about the project I wanted to speak about what AHRC NYC does exactly. AHRC is one of New York City’s largest non-profit organizations dedicated to helping people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. They offer a variety of programs and services tailored to meet people’s specific needs.

My goal for the year is to conduct research on a variety of VR applications which correspond to AHRC’s curriculum. After researching them, I will personally be testing and learning how to utilize them on a VR headset (specific headset TBD). The main objective of this project is for the applications to be implemented into AHRC’s classrooms. The purpose for all the researching and testing is to ensure that AHRC’s students will be able to utilize the applications in order to learn and understand abstract concepts and subjects which they would not have been able to without the use of VR.

As a computer science student, it is always exciting when I get the opportunity to learn about technology that I have never worked with before. This research project piqued my interest from the moment I learned that I was going to be working with virtual reality. I hope to learn a great deal about virtual reality and its applications in not only a classroom setting, but the real world as well. I hope to come out of this project with kore knowledge about VR and its applications, how to properly work and use a VR headset, and overall, I wish to familiarize myself with and learn from people with disabilities.

Because this is my first opportunity working with VR, a lot of my time has been/will be dedicated to researching and reading up on the variety of VR headsets that are currently on the market such as the Oculus Rift, the HTC Vive, the Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard and a myriad of others out there. Currently, I am in the midst of reading Learning Virtual Reality: Developing Immersive Experiences and Applications for Desktop, Web, and Mobile by Tony Parisi, an informative book that breaks down most of the basics of VR for someone even as inexperienced with VR technology as me. With all this information, I will ultimately pick out VR applications to do extensive research on in hopes that they will later be incorporated into AHRC’s classrooms for their students. I look forward to updating everyone as I venture on in my research journey!

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