Ep 216 – Workplace Training and Accessibility

This episode of the Workology Podcast is part of our Future of Work series powered by PEAT, the Partnership on Employment & Accessible Technology. In honor of the upcoming 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act this July, we’re investigating what the next 30 years will look like for people with disabilities at work, and the potential of emerging technologies to make workplaces more inclusive and accessible. Today, I’m joined by Technology Strategist, Joel Ward.

Ep 216: How XR is Changing Workplace Training and Accessibility (@joelsef)

Joel is Technology Strategist & AR Product Manager for management consulting company, Booz Allen Hamilton. His work is focused in the areas of mixed & augmented reality, the Microsoft HoloLens 2, computer vision, biosensors, and sensor fusion. With all the crazy speed of technology moving forward, Joel helps break down the basics when it comes to XR, AR, and VR. 

What is XR, AR, and VR Really?

Joel shares that XR is what most of the industry is using for a blanket term for what most people may know as VR. And our virtual reality is VR and AR or augmented reality. And I think for most people they may not be interchangeable, but Joel says they are really not. He says we use XR to cover all of that because the goal where we see everything going is they will be blended together, but currently they are very different things. Virtual reality is where you put on a pair of goggles and you may have seen this actually in arcade places like the Microsoft Store or if you are familiar with Facebook’s Oculus headset.You put on a pair of goggles and these lenses show you somewhere else taking you to a complete place. Joel says this blending of the real world and virtual world is moving very quickly and employers need to be prepared because XR,VR and AR have solid applications in the workplace.

I feel like technology, like XDR, coupled with tech, like artificial intelligence and robotics, will probably have the biggest impact over the next thirty years. - @joelsef #podcast #acessibility #xr Click To Tweet

How Do We Make XR Accessible for Employees?

One of the biggest challenges for virtual reality and other technology is making the experience accessible. This is especially important when we look at the workplace and employment. Employers who want to add XR into their workplaces for training, meetings, and troubleshoot applications are real. It’s important to think about building and creating technology and programs for workplaces that take into consideration how we learn and experience the world differently. This includes people with disabilities. Joel along with many others is tackling this challenge in a number of different areas with his work in the XR Access Initiative. XR Access Initiative brings together individuals in every area of XR from training, technologists, developers, users, and beyond to help drive discussion on making XR technology more accessible to every person. 

Joel says this work starts with not only driving awareness with interviews like on the Workology Podcast but also bringing together a diverse group and talking together about the challenges and future of a world with XR. Because of HR’s involvement in the workplace as combined with their involvement in employee training and development programs, HR leaders will be more involved in adding XR to their businesses. XR’s application at work is very broad says Joel from bringing together people in virtual meetings into a shared virtual environment to providing training and support for people in maintenance in industries to navigation or direction. XR has application in the workplace from manufacturing to retail to office environments. It has application everywhere and anywhere.


I love the variety of different ways that XR can be applied in the workplace especially the empathy simulations and training not to mention the ability to provide employees and team members with learning, development, and simulations providing them with experiences and tools to leverage not just at work but in their everyday life. As an early adopter of Google Glass, I have always been excited about the possibilities of XR and love the work that Joel is doing and appreciate his time getting us up to speed on important terms and applications in the workplace not to mention his work with developers and educators to help shape the future of XR for consumers and employees. If you are interested in the reports and data I referenced, I’ll include these in the resources section of this episode transcript. 

The future of work series in partnership with PEAT is one of my favorites. Thank you to PEAT as well as our podcast sponsor Workology.

Connect with Joel Ward on Linkedin.



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Jessica Miller-Merrell

Learn more about Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, the founder of Workology, a workplace HR resource, and the host of the Workology Podcast. More of her blogs can be found here.


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