The CyberXR Coalition releases the Immersive Technology Standards for Accessibility, Inclusion, Ethics, and Safety

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In February 2020, leading global organizations focused on Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) strategically came together to address the dire necessity of ethics and safety in cybersecurity and XR. 

XRSI’s Diversity and Inclusion effort, the CyberXR Coalition and its worldwide network along with well established global partnerships and its founding members’ combined experience in safety, ethics, inclusion, and accessibility, constitute an exceptional and unique asset for supporting tech industries in strengthening their capacity and achieving trust, safety, and access for all. 

The Cyber XR Coalition’s “Immersive Technology Standards for Accessibility, Inclusion, Ethics, and Safety”, which we will release on May 27th during the Augmented World Expo (AWE) Virtual Spring event 2020, is a joint global effort to help build safe and inclusive digital ecosystems.

The members include:

From one moment to another, we have become dependent on the ability to work remotely, to create digital-only, to experience the world around us through our screens, and to try to make the most of it. The CyberXR Coalition recognized the need of the hour and started re-writing history with lessons from previous mistakes in the thought process. While 59 % of the global population, including over 1.5 billion children, moved online continuing the social distancing, the pressure has never been higher for technology companies to become more inclusive. 

Our members are uniquely positioned for such a time as this to empower and strengthen communities and equip corporations to mitigate biases and inequalities. The CyberXR Coalition came together to place necessary emphasis on Human-Centric design by creating these baseline standards. 

A human-centric design and development approach for immersive technologies is built on three pillars: Trust, Inclusion, and Accessibility. It fuels the creation of products that resonate more deeply with an audience — ultimately driving engagement and growth.

Human-centric Design

 Trust, Inclusion, and Accessibility

The TIA Triad for Human-Centric Design in XR ecosystems by CyberXR 

Achieving Human-Centric design is based on two essential components. The first is the development of baseline practices to enable organizations, developers, content creators, and XR stakeholders to make ethics and inclusion-based decisions for building immersive experiences. The second is the development of voluntary consensus-driven XR standards, policies, and guidelines to enable the XR organizations to make pragmatic and impact-driven decisions to help create human-centric design and development of these new ecosystems. The effort explored possible solutions to the biggest challenges facing Privacy, Accessibility, and Ethics within the XR Ecosystem.

The Immersive Technology Standards for Accessibility, Inclusion, Ethics, and Safety has five crucial goals:

  1. Leave no one behind.
  2. Be accessible: everyone must be able to participate in the digital society.
  3. Protect identities: users must be able to participate in the digital society no matter their gender, ethnicity, birthplace, or cultural and political beliefs, ensuring discrimination and biases are mitigated and not further reinforced.
  4. Keep everyone safe and secure: shaping rules and practices that enable a secure and resilient immersive environment.
  5. Build new rules to promote trust: developing new, flexible, participatory governance mechanisms to complement traditional policy and regulation in a domain that’s in constant evolution.

Four areas of work have been identified to achieve the goals described above. The first, accessibility, is one of the three foundational pillars for building inclusive and safe XR systems for all. The second and third areas collectively address organizations’ capacities to build trust within the ecosystems; the fourth focuses on trust and safety by outlining baseline needs for security and privacy at a global level. 

Accessibility

The Coalition believes that including accessibility in Human-Centric design and development should be more than just making sure you meet any legal requirements to check the box for some feel-good PR opportunity.
It is about good hardware and software design, development and coding, appropriate testing and training, and building a culture of care. Mistakes and re-engineering design frameworks are less likely if we build a culture of accessibility from the ground up.
As a baseline for immersive technologies, the Coalition outlines the CyberXR Top 10 Priorities for VR and AR regarding accessibility. 

Diversity and Inclusion

We are at a crossroads between emerging technologies, data sciences, and cybersecurity – fueled by a renewed, global necessity of diversity and inclusion (D&I) in each domain.
In the age of immersive environments, the basic premise and fundamental goal of “social communities” is to create, share, and build an immersive society.
Extended reality should reflect the “real” society. Diversity does not end when someone from a marginalized population enters a room or an experience. Exclusion can still occur once inside. Therefore, it is critically important that the creators of social environments are mindful of these core concepts.
There is a risk of discomfort initially. However, if introduced and implemented with great thought and care, the result is a heightened level of standards for all community members to participate fully. The social community runs more smoothly as participants agree to abide by ethical standards, respective rules, and prescribed protocols as outlined.

Ethics and Awareness

What changes will the emerging technologies have on our minds and bodies? What effect will it have on our relationships with each other, our interaction with machines, and the state of the environment? Via these standards, the Coalition is shaping the future for the best possible outcome by defining digital ethics and addressing the challenge we face today while building an aware and prepared industry and society.
The approach outlined in the standards provides an opportunity to create an ethical filter in the digital transformation process for everyone and every organization involved in the process. 

Trust and Safety

The Cyber XR Coalition presents a novel approach to address security, privacy, and ethical challenges by placing them under a framework and shifting the attention from micro granular approaches to solve these issues to a macro thought process. The standard outline is focusing on a new degree of trust beyond the traditional concepts of Privacy and Security. It uncovers the need for a new mindset that incorporates all dimensions of the attack surface, whether it is hygiene for sharing headsets, preventing dizziness and fall due to motion sickness, or minimizing abuse of data and privacy. XR requires us to understand the associated risks in terms of Safety, which incorporates privacy and security but also takes into account physical and psychological harm.

About the CyberXR Coalition

The Cyber XR Coalition is the Diversity and Inclusion effort from XR Safety Initiative (XRSI), a 501(c)(3) worldwide not-for-profit organization that promotes privacy, security, and ethics in the immersive environments (virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality). The coalition’s  mission is to help build safe and inclusive experiences so that XR stakeholders are able to make informed and decisions. The coalition brings together discovering inclusion focused leading cybersecurity and XR organizations to build potential solutions for accessibility, ethics,inclusion and safety. With global expertise, the coalition is uniquely positioned to provide impartial, practical information about XR related risks and opportunities to individuals, corporations, universities, government agencies, and other organizations worldwide.