Building new and strengthening existing relationships within communities is one of the key aspects of what we do under the Our Digital City banner.
Bristol Community Links South (located here in Knowle West) is one of the local services with whom we have spent time getting to know better over recent months. Many of their service users are elderly, living with dementia, learning difficulties or visual and physical impairments.
Working alongside the management staff at Bristol Community Links the team came up with the idea to try and offer the service users something that would introduce them to new technologies and experiences for which disabilities hold no barriers… Virtual Reality.
Using the HTC Vive VR Headset, we took several VR experiences down to the centre and ran a taster session. The service users had never tried VR before, so this was completely new to them all.
This is Doreen (left). She is a wheelchair user whose condition prevents her from air travel. We loaded up a travel experience that took Doreen all the way to Indonesia. There, she experienced running across white sands, heading out on a speed boat and diving into the clear blue sea and swimming in the reef with exotic sea life.
“I’ve never been on an aeroplane in my life and I’ve always wanted to fly, to see places around the world. This experience was unbelievable. I felt like I was actually there, swimming in the sea with those beautiful fish… Thank you for giving me this experience. It was wonderful...
Keep up the good work you are all doing.”
The VR technology showcases how technology can be used to tackle the potential mental health issues that can be caused by long term limited mobility. At a time when the pace of technology is ever changing, it also serves well to break down the barriers of digital isolation that many elderly people face today.
With Virtual Reality, we can give the service users of Bristol Community Links South an opportunity to try something new and experience an adventure they might not otherwise get to live.