MWXBrigitte Beaulne-Syp, Virtual Museum of Canada, Canada, Sina Bahram, Prime Access Consulting, Inc., USA
Fabienne Théoret, an Anishinabe from Lac-Simon, Québec, is talking to you in front of her house. She invites you to her grandfather’s birthday. On your desktop, you can click around her. On your mobile, you can use the accelerometer. Little kids run around you. Their laughter surrounds you. Next click, you’re in Fabienne’s kitchen with her aunts, uncles and cousins preparing a special family meal. You’re so immersed in the celebration, it’s as if you’re actually in the room with them. That’s the uniquely engaging nature of la Boîte Rouge vif’s Hanging Out, an upcoming online virtual exhibit centered around 25 spherical 360-degree videos.
The participatory nature of the 360-degree video format gives users an outstanding digital experience, accessible from desktop and on mobile, and creates the feeling of actually being in a story, a space, or a landscape. Online 360 videos are now mainstream and are widely used in marketing, on social media such as Facebook, The New York Times’ Daily360, as well as in the museums field, in projects like that of The Met (for which it received a 2017 Webby Award), The British Museum, the Louvre, the Natural History Museum, and more.
A wide range of users will experience 360- degree video, including those with disabilities and technical challenges. Yet there are still no existing standards and best practices around how to create inclusive, accessible 360-degree videos. This is the hard challenge that we, La Boîte Rouge vif, Sina Bahram of Prime Access Consulting and the Virtual Museum of Canada, came up against on the Hanging Out project. Starting with a shared commitment to accessibility, and limited resources, we set out to explore the question “How do you turn a highly visual and immersive product like 360-degree video into a more accessible and inclusive experience?”
Using the example of Hanging Out, we will start a discussion with participants about inclusive immersive digital experiences, and their challenges and benefits.