THCB Note: Alice Kreuger recently updated THCB about all the exciting things she’s doing in Second Life on Virtual Ability Island. Here is a quick rundown. If you’re unsure about second life, check out this video.
We just opened Virtual Ability Island, which is accessed through our Web site. Newcomers with disabilities can come directly to the island from the site, including opening a new SL account and creating their avatar, entirely bypassing the Linden Labs orientation facilities.
Our innovative orientation facility is disability-friendly, and the instruction there is divided into two parts, beginning and advanced. The beginner course covers six basic skills that can be learned and practiced in an hour. The instructional sequence for newcomers is linear, provides embedded practice, and is based on principles of andragogy, the theory of adult learning.
There is also a collection of eleven advanced topic tutorials,
covering content such as SL social skills, photography, profile
writing, preferences, clothing, very basic building, money and economy,
and groups and SL society. These advanced tutorials are nonlinear and
optional, providing just-in-time instruction, again appropriate for the
There are also small presentation and large conference facilities on
Virtual Ability Island, all totally accessible. More innovations in the
- We are collaborating on an effort to create a subgroup of the
SL Mentors, those experienced avatars who provide informal help to
befuddled newbies, who are called SecondAbility Mentors. These people
are specially trained to work with people with all kinds of
disabilities, and have access to information about services available
inside SL and in the real world.
- Virtual Ability, Inc. was instrumental in winning the Annenberg
Community Good Challenge in Second Life that will enable the Health
Support Coalition to create small "home" spaces on a dedicated SL
island for the smallest health/disability support groups, and build
shared meeting facilities for them. This island is just at the stage of
being populated by the first of those groups.
- We continue to work with professors and instructors in two
ways. Our members have been invited guests in classes of various styles
(lecture, focus group, tour) and topics (medical informatics, nursing).
Researchers with high quality research protocols can promote their need
for subjects to our members, many of whom like to participate in
- We are forming relationships with other groups inside SL and
externally, including a group that supports aging in the home rather
than moving elders to institutions, and a group that supports telework
for isolated people with disabilities.
- Perhaps the most innovative project we are involved in is the
design and beta testing of a guide dog for blind and visually impaired
users of Second Life. (Yes, you heard me correctly. Some of our members
are totally blind!)