Yesterday I spent time in N2Y4’s Second Life Mixed Reality Health Panel, which was celebrating the launch of the new inworld, Health Commons. The session I attended was about AIDS/HIV in Second Life. The conversation was about the perception of those who have AIDS/HIV inworld and out and how Second Life’s communities aid people with the disease, as well what a great tool Second Life can be for the disabled. As the distinctions between our realities continue to blur, some with disabilities find in Second Life ways to make their lives better.
With the ability to create any kind of avatar they like, people can be perceived the way they want to be perceived, instead of how others choose to view them.
Embodiment changes the conversation, as one of the Mixed Reality event’s participants said.
Niels Schuddeboom, who has been wheelchair bound for 20 years, wrote in 2007: “In real life, many people tend to think that I’m mentally retarded; in second life I can’t be judged by my wheels, as long as I don’t use a wheelchair. As soon as I do, mechanisms of social interaction work exactly the same.”
Yesterday’s moderator told the story of Nick Dupree, who is on a ventilator and can only move his thumbs. One time she found him crying and asked what happened.
“I just kissed my girlfriend for the first in Second Life,” was his reply.
“There are all kinds of reality,” said by the event moderator, is a statement that every year becomes more correct.
There are many Second Life disability resources available from virtualability.com, a Colorado-based non-profit whose mission is to “enable people with a wide range of disabilities by providing a supporting environment for them to enter and thrive in online virtual worlds like Second Life.”