Reimagining VR: Unlocking Inclusive Futures with Audio and Audio Description


New audiences are discovering virtual reality (VR) as it is increasingly adopted in the creative industries. The question of ‘who is VR for’ is therefore being re-examined, and we have an opportunity to provide an inclusive answer.

This workshop explores audio storytelling techniques and Audio Description (AD) as ways of widening access to visual VR content. Research and guidance have been published on how to use audio to make VR accessible to visually-impaired audiences, for instance, but there remain few case studies. The workshop will be led by creatives who can share practical insight from implementing related tools and techniques, and participants will have the chance to experiment with some approaches in short collaborative activities. Ahead of launching an inclusive VR catalogue from Bristol, this workshop will point to relevant audio-based expertise and resources.

If you are a VR artist interested in making your work more inclusive, then this is for you. Please join us if you are simply curious about how audio may enhance your VR stories.


Alison Bown is a narrative sound designer, writer, and educator with expertise in sound design for films, games, and VR. She recently completed a PhD exploring how narrative transportation can be created through combining sound and language. Alison is a resident of Pervasive Media Studio, Bristol, and often collaborates with people exploring narrative in VR / AR, film-makers, performing artists, social change agencies, and sound recordists.

Matt Lewis is a sound artist, musician, and a tutor at the Royal College of Art. His work uses sound to offer critical insight, including of emerging ideas and practices in VR design. Matt’s recent projects have investigated the immersive and inclusive possibilities unlocked by Audio Description, stressing the value of this access tool for more than just visually-impaired audiences.

Jack Hardiker is an interdisciplinary artist, designer and researcher at the Royal College of Art. He advocates for inclusion of a diverse range of voices in the creative process. His recent project, a collaboration with Matt Lewis, has involved reimagining designing for VR by using aural experiences to guide the construction of visual worlds.

Cesar Portillo is a sound engineer and researcher with a background in immersive sound. He has worked on making audio-visual media, including VR, immersive for blind and partially-sighted audiences.

The workshop is being organised as part of a PhD research project by Harshadha Balasubramanian. Participation in the workshop does not require participation in the research. However, if you are interested to take part in research, then please go here and contact the researcher: