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Virtual Reality Project with UniSA

Orana collaborated in a virtual reality (VR) project with the University of South Australia during 2020 and 2021 to determine whether VR technology was an effective method for teaching people with intellectual disability new skills. VR technology allows people to practice skills over time and increase their confidence in a safe environment. To date, there has been very little research in the area related to intellectual disability.

The project aims to demonstrate that virtual reality could assist people with intellectual disability to improve their recycling habits. Forty-five people participated in the study from Orana Ridleyton Business Services and Life Education.

A custom program was designed and developed to replicate our real-world environment. Users were required to wear a head-mounted display while holding a controller to grab objects and move them into the correct bin. Each participant completed the VR training over numerous sessions at Orana’s Ridleyton site. Once users could accomplish most of the items correctly, their ability to complete the same task again was then tested in a real-life simulation.

The preliminary results are encouraging – real-world performance significantly improved after VR training. The project team plans to continue exploring the potential of VR to teach people with disability life skills such as cooking and cleaning.

This project was possible thanks to the work from the following researchers at The University of South Australia: Stefan Michalski, Tobias Loetscher, Nicholas Gallomarino, Ancret Szpak, Caroline Ellison, Gun Lee and Kieran May.

A participant shared their thoughts of their VR training sessions:

“I enjoyed it; I feel happy. I sorted rubbish into general waste, recycling and organic.

The teabags go in general waste and bananas in organic. I used a remote control to pick them up. I would like to do this again”.

-William Tran (Life Education Participant who completed the full VR training program).

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