About the Virtual Reality Project
The Virtual Reality application is aimed at support staff who work directly with people with a range of disabilities including intellectual disability and Autism. The application aims to build empathy and understanding by embodying the user in a first-person viewpoint.
The scenario will involve the Virtual Reality participant being in a typical environment in which supports may be provided. The participant will have the opportunity (and will be encouraged) to explore a range of objects and areas of interest within the virtual environment. During the experience, the participant is exposed to amplified sensory stimuli associated with sensory processing difficulties. Every-day ambient sounds such as a ticking clock are simulated to become an overwhelmingly loud distraction. The participant may also be exposed to a ‘simple’ everyday task which become difficult to complete to reflect cognitive challenges.
The aim is to trigger a level of frustration, confusion, possibly fear and/or discomfort through the experience in order to provide staff working with people who deal with these same issues on a daily and possibly hourly basis, an understanding and level of appreciation of the lived experience. Obviously, no Virtual Reality application will emulate a completely real experience, but it is hoped that with a greater level of understanding and empathy, staff members will be provided with a strong foundation on which to build other support skills.
Outcomes: Evaluation and Impact
The expected outcomes are identification of any barriers or enablers to the use of VR in staff training and how the product could be best implemented.
One in five Australians are living with disability. People with disability require targeted support to ensure optimal health and wellbeing. Empathy and awareness of living with disability are essential parts of health workforce training. VR has the potential to increase accessibility for flexible training for health workforce in rural, regional and remote areas. The project will provide proof of concept for a type of methodology for evaluation of VR application for training for disability workers.
The slogan for the Virtual Reality project came about when Mercy Connect wanted to connect the rich history of the organisation to the immersive experience that is Virtual Reality. Paying homage to our Mercy background, IMERCYVE brings to life why we are doing this project, and why it is so important.