By Giselle Mota
The astounding technological advancements of recent years have put new worlds of possibilities at our fingertips, but it is vital that new technologies are welcoming to all.
While Web3 technologies and the metaverse present ever-growing opportunities for people with disabilities, accessibility, and representation will be as crucial as they are in the physical world. With these technologies still in their early stages, the time is ripe to ensure that the disability community is fully welcomed into the digital spaces of the future.
Fortunately, a diverse range of creators, consumers, and advocates are working to ensure that emerging technologies are designed with disabilities in mind. I created the NFTY Collective to help make Web3 and the metaverse inclusive for people of diverse backgrounds, particularly those with disabilities – both seen and unseen.
The metaverse holds tremendous promise for people with disabilities. Individuals who are mobility-impaired can explore without limits, while many people who struggle in social environments find it easier to interact digitally. Voice changers and sound boards can also help individuals with speech issues, or those who are nonverbal, to communicate. Metaverse creators can help ensure accessibility by including options aimed at people with disabilities, like adjustable interfaces and sound settings for people with sensory challenges.
Inclusion goes far beyond simply ensuring that people with disabilities are able to access Web3 technologies and the metaverse. Digital representations should allow users to honor, rather than hide, their disabilities. Just as the digital world has made strides in representing people of diverse ethnic backgrounds and gender expression, creators can support individuals with disabilities by allowing users to create avatars that reflect their physical selves.
The NFTY Collective is also working with a wide range of artists to advance disability representation in the NFT space. Visual artists, poets, and musicians who are part of the disability community can use blockchain-powered technology to build their public profiles and profit from their work. NFTs can also represent and spread awareness about various disabilities, both visible and invisible. The NFTY Collective’s Unhidden Collection highlights individuals with disabilities and encourages people to reflect on representation in the digital world.
Considerations for people with disabilities should be top of mind for digital platform developers. With Web3 and the metaverse still in their infancy, now is the time to ensure that the digital spaces of the future are designed to fully welcome everyone. Policymakers should take note as well, and work together with disability advocates and tech experts to establish guidelines for accessibility and resources to build awareness around disability inclusion in tech.
As technological pioneers continue to grow the metaverse and advance new Web3 tools, digital spaces will rapidly gain popularity for work, play, and the arts. These spaces should be designed from the outset to fully welcome individuals with disabilities – to do so, we should all work to amplify and listen to voices from the disability community. Together, we can ensure that the next generation of tech has a place for everyone.
Giselle Mota is an inclusive futurist and creator of NFTY Collective.