Parallel Parks – a Virtual reality for people with disability

Parallel Parks, Australia’s first Virtual reality (VR) project went live in Martin Place Sydney recently. The project will enable people with disability and those with mobility issues, to access previously inaccessible parts of our national parks including the Great Barrier Reef, Kangaroo Island, the Murray River and Uluru.

An initiative of social enterprise New Horizons in partnership with NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, People & Parks Foundation, Hamilton Island, Qantas and Telstra, the event also launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds required to shoot additional VR footage and co-design the delivery of the product with people with disability.

Among the visitors with disability was Catherine Smith who was clearly impressed with the VR technology: “I want more of it. You are on the right track with the development and it gets a big thumbs-up from me. I would use this experience to help me choose holiday destinations before I spent time and money booking flights and organising carers and special accommodation. For example, if I look at Uluru through the app, I can decide if it will be worth the expense and trouble it takes for me to go there.”  Another, William Quong said the tour allowed him a freedom he does not have in the real world. And his favourite? “Visiting the Barrier Reef, because I loved it that you could go underwater especially as I can’t take my wheelchair in the water!”

 NSW Government parliamentary secretary, Scott Farlow said: “Parallel Parks showcases the power of technology to remove barriers and improve access for people with disability. Community connection, inclusivity, and access to the outdoors are all key elements in creating a sense of wellbeing, and are fundamental to happiness and positive mental health.  I am pleased to support such a great project, because it’s not just people with disability who benefit from inclusion, the community as a whole benefits”.

New Horizons CEO, Judi Higgins said the initiative wouldn’t be possible without partners and supporters.  “By teaming up with experts from so many different sectors we are truly collaborating and innovating to make a significant difference in the wellbeing of all members of our community.”

For more information, or to contribute to the project visit: www.parallelparks.com.au.

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