A Second Life for People with Disabilities

A Second Life for People with Disabilities

This guest post was provided by a source who wishes to remain anonymous.

I grew up playing Pong, Space Invaders, and PacMan, not the complicated games with virtual worlds of today. Maybe that’s why  Second Life is difficult for me. I just can’t get into it for some reason.

If I could figure it out, it might be neat to create a new persona, perhaps even one without a disability. I have always believed that if there was a magical machine that would take away my cerebral palsy, I would not use it. However, to be able to experience life without a disability in a virtual world might tempt me.

It seems that many people with disabilities, probably younger and more hip than me, enjoy SL. This fascinating interview with Judith, a SL resident who also has cerebral palsy, reveals a great deal about the potential of virtual environments for those of us with disabilities.

What I find most interesting is that most people with disabilities using SL choose to represent themselves with the disabilities they have in real life. I am not sure that this surprises me. Disability is part of our identities, but whether we view it as a positive or negative characteristic usually varies by how society has constructed it for us.

Even more telling is Judith’s comparison of when she leaves her wheelchair behind and when she uses it. Unfortunately, it seems that society’s bias against those with disabilities is not removed in virtual worlds. However, others are testing SL as a venue for fostering disability awareness and researching the effects of being able to do things in virtual environments that one cannot do in real life (more on this later as I do more research).

I would love to hear other experiences of people with disabilities on SL, including tips on how this old dog can learn new virtual tricks.