Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Editorial - Virtual and Augmented Reality Environments for People with Special Needs

Academic journal article International Journal of Child Health and Human Development

Editorial - Virtual and Augmented Reality Environments for People with Special Needs

Article excerpt

Introduction

This special issue on virtual reality for people with special needs encompasses two review articles and nine articles based on research initially presented at the 9th International Conference on Disability, Virtual Reality and Associated Technologies (ICDVRAT) held in Laval, France in September 2012.

The use of virtual reality for learning, training, and rehabilitation for people with special needs has been on the rise in recent years. Virtual reality allows the user to be trained, to gather information and to perform rehabilitation tasks in the virtual reality space. It allows the user to perform independently, safely, and efficiently, in a combined product of sensory, motor, and cognitive skills. The design, development, and evaluation of such virtual reality environments is a multidisciplinary work, the integration of medicine, physical therapy, occupational therapy, neuroscience, psychology, education, engineering, computer science, and art.

Since 1996 the ICDVART conference has played a central role in gathering researchers from these disciplines who bring together new, advanced and collaborative work. In the past few years, the research and development of virtual reality for people with special needs has included a wide range of hitherto single-user technologies to an environment that allow two or more users to train or learn collaboratively.

A common theme across all articles in this special issue is the role of virtual reality in the therapy process and the wide cross-disciplines of the researchers. The papers are covering a broad range of topics from virtual reality-augmented therapy in the development of cognitive neuroscience perspective on motor rehabilitation, the potential of virtual environments to improve orientation and mobility skills for people who are blind, virtual reality for people with cerebral palsy, haptic virtual reality technologies for visual impairment and blindness, perception of space and subsequent design changes needed for accessibility, autism spectrum disorder to improving cognitive and intellectual skills via virtual environments in a range of different topics such as mathematical performance or prospective memory. …

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