Saturday, April 21, 2007

Accessibility in Second Life

As numerous edubloggers have been exploring and even singing the praises of Second Life, I wonder about accessibility issues for individuals with disabilities. Then I noticed a link in Lucy Gray's blog, A Teacher's Life to the article Technology News: Consumer: Soaring Beyond Physical Challenges in Virtual Worlds.

Second Life is the most popular 3-D multi-user virtual environment (MUVE) with over 3.3 million registered avatars. How accessible is this environment for our students? The article states:
For the subpopulation with mobility and dexterity challenges, "Second Life" is a very interesting world indeed. There is a group of people in "Second Life," for example, who have experienced strokes in real life. While in their "first life" they often experience mobility challenges, in "Second Life" their avatars can fly, walk, jump and communicate via facial expressions with ease.
And, summarizes:
MUVEs as they currently exist and are experienced are a boon to two of the three main subpopulations (i.e., the hearing and mobility challenged), but they are still a bust to blind and visually impaired users.
One of the creators of SL was quoted in the article as saying they are working to make the virtual world accessible to users with visual impairments. It is a visually driven world and requires a great deal of tagging and it will take a committed effort on the part of many individuals.

It's interesting to note that ISTE has created a virtual educational environment within Second Life where professional development and networking occurs. I haven't explored it yet but I'm almost ready to take the plunge.
The article didn't address learning disability issues. I may need to write about that once I feel proficient in SL.

Have you entered the virtual world of SL? Share your experiences with the rest of us.

1 comment:

Beth Knittle said...

Hey Karen,

I have just begun exploring second life my self, I personally am hooked, could just be the euphoria of exploring a new world, I'll wait and see. I do see it helping to remove the barriers of time and space for collaboration. When it comes to those with disabilities like with all thing s I think it will take some time to get that all sorted out, to bad that always comes as an after thought. Maybe I'll see you in SL