The Eyes Have It: Visual Feedback Methods to Make Walking in Immersive Virtual Reality More Accessible for People With Mobility Impairments While Utilizing Head-Mounted Displays
The use of Head-Mounted Displays (HMDs) in Virtual Reality (VR) can cause gait disturbance problems for users because they are unable to see the real world while in VR. This is particularly challenging for individuals with mobility impairments who rely heavily on visual cues to maintain balance. The limited research that has been conducted on this issue has not focused on ways to solve it. IN this study, we investigated how different visual feedback methods affect walking patterns (i.e., gait) in VR. The study involved 50 participants, including 25 individuals with mobility impairments due to multiple sclerosis and 25 without mobility impairments. The participants completed timed walking tasks in both the real world and in VR environments that included various types of visual feedback, such as spatial, static, and rhythmic. The results showed that static and rhythmic visual feedback significantly improved gait performance in VR for people with mobility impairments compared to no visual feedback in VR. The results will help to make more accessible virtual environments for people with mobility impairments.