Disability Rights Conference in Second Life

Another great event from Virtual Ability Island in Second Life on the way in coming days:

July 16, 2011 – IDRAC2011

International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference- July 23/24, 2011

Virtual World Conference about Real World Rights

Virtual Ability, Inc. announces the International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference (IDRAC2011) to be held Saturday and Sunday, July 23/24, in Second Life®.

In 2006, the United Nations held a Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The text of the Convention was adopted by the UN General Assembly, and now has over 100 signatory states, including the US and the European Union.

Legislation to protect the rights of persons with disabilities is becoming common around the world. However, the June 9 World Health Organization study, the World Report on Disability, found significant barriers to equal access for persons with disabilities still exist.

This international conference will begin to explore legal protections around the world for persons with disabilities. Featured panels of persons from around the world will discuss local legislation that supports the rights of persons with disabilities. Panelists come from Australia, Belgium, Costa Rica, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, and the UK.

Featured presenters include Scott Gill, Simon Walsh, Sister Abeyante, and Roberta Walker Kilkenny.

Gill is Executive Director of Access 2 independence, a Center for Independent Living in Iowa, US; he will talk about the independence movement. Walsh is head of his own consulting firm in the UK; he will compare the US ADA legislation with the UK’s DDA. Abeyante is a Salvatorian Sister; she will discuss advocacy for disability (civil and human) rights. Kilkenny is a college instructor; she will present about the significance of the UN Convention.

Presentations by the National Service Inclusion Project and the Job Accommodation Network will highlight disability services available in the US. Other sessions will feature peer support, comedy, and dance, both as part of the affirmation celebration.

Presentations will take place in Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability Island within Second Life®: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Virtual%20Ability/54/170/23. The full schedule of confirmed presenters is posted inworld, and at http://virtualability.org/IDRAC2011.aspx.

Alice Krueger, president of Virtual Ability, Inc., stated: “It is a great pleasure to host so many wonderful speakers. Our audience will gain information about the extent of the issues facing people with disabilities, and the potentials for solutions to barriers.”

About Virtual Ability, Inc.

Virtual Ability, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation based in Denver, Colorado, dedicated to enabling people with a wide range of disabilities by providing a supporting environment for them to enter and thrive in on-line virtual worlds like Second Life®.

For more information on Virtual Ability, Inc., including the benefits of virtual reality for people with disabilities, please see www.VirtualAbility.org.

For further information, contact:

Alice Krueger, President
Virtual Ability Inc.
Office: 303/400-3306

WA Police “Step Forward” into Second Life: detractors in hot pursuit.

The WA Police "Step Forward" Pavilion

The WA Police “Step Forward” Virtual Recruiting Pavilion was launched this week in Second Life. The plan is for the pavilion to be run during a three month trial period, after which this method of recruiting will be reviewed.

“Trudi Karu” and “Dreibergs Lannock” are the avatar names of the recruiting police who will be attending the pavilion at various times over the weeks to come. There is no information yet on how often these staff members will be available to talk to interested parties in Second Life, but it is promising that, unlike with some other government agencies and corporations who have created a virtual presence, there will be an actual person to converse with, rather than a simple 3D rendition of a web site. Unfortunately, there was no-one on staff on Saturday, a day on which many people who work would have the leisure time to get in-world and talk.

Poor video quality mars presentation.

The pavilion consists of a ground-based structure, from which you can teleport to the presentation suite – a sky box consisting of four conjoined, circular huts. The first room is a welcome area, from which you can reach each of the other dedicated rooms. Each room has a link to an appropriate web page, an image of that web page, and a multimedia screen on which to display video content. The video content arrives speedily and without skipping, but is of low visual quality – words cannot be made out – so what the actors have to say has more importance placed on it. Nonetheless, Binary Culture, the company responsible for the build, has produced an attractive and functional build.

On the other side of the story are the folks from the Retired Medically Unfit WA Police Officers Forum (RMU WA POL). While the “Step Forward” Pavilion was unattended by staff, we met up with a member of RMU WA POL at the pavilion. Western Australia appears to be the only state in Australia in which the police, due to a legal technicality, are not classified as “employees”. Due to this legality, police in W.A. are not due any pension or compensation if retired due to medical unfitness. According to RMU WA POL, some of those who have been discharged are not only denied any financial support, but are also denied emotional support and respect.

This is an example of a situation in which a build in Second Life can become equally important a venue for people with opposing or conflicting views as for the people who originally put it together. Indeed, if staffing is irregular, or as is so common in Second Life, absent, virtual presences have the potential to foster numerous views that were not originally intended.

Perhaps the WA Police’s Assistant Director for Attraction and Marketing, Trudi Angwin, may have some secong thoughts about the assertion she’s made: “the pavilion met our needs of being low maintenance, highly accessible, and functional without needing our ‘real’ staff to be logged in for long periods of time canvassing avatar inquiries.”

“Step Forward” page on the W.A. police web site.

Article from “The West” web site.

Binary Culture’s media release.

China earthquake appeal in Second Life

Metaverse developer Simuality is holding a fundraiser for the China earthquake victims.

The full details:


Evanston, IL – 05/15/2008 – Metaverse developer Simuality LLC is seeking to help raise funds for relief of the horrible human tragedy in China’s Sichuan Province following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which devastated the region this week.

Hosting their appeal in the virtual world of Second Life, Simuality will be turning over the very popular Club Mannequin for a 24-hour fundraiser. The club is one of the most popular locations in Second Life, and is a hub for nightlife and designer clothing, as well as being the future cornerstone of a developing virtual fashion and entertainment district. Club Mannequin is one of the highest traffic spots in SL, featuring urban styles and hip-hop music. Special guest DJs will be on hand to keep the party going.

Prominently featured in the middle of the dance floor will be an attention-grabbing donation kiosk, with smaller versions placed around the club and in surrounding areas. The event will take place from midnight to midnight (Pacific time) on Saturday, May 17th at Club Mannequin in Second Life.

Virtual world donations are being collected in the Second Life currency of Linden Dollars. All monies collected will be donated to the International Red Cross to support their efforts to aid the hundreds of thousands of survivors of China’s major earthquake disaster.”

Check it out in-world

Virtual Africa starts delivering for real Africa

I don’t usually post in full a press release from an entity within a virtual world like Second Life, but the information below is worth replicating in full. It’s good news on a small scale but if the growth in use of virtual worlds continues at a pace predicted in some quarters, then larger results for the real world may be seen.

“Virtual Africa’s Second Life initiative brings bicycles to South Africans in need

CAPE TOWN, December 14, 2007. The developers of Virtual Africa in Second Life began selling virtual African bicycles a month ago and have sold nearly 150 bikes to date – less than 20 bikes shy of financing the purchase of a real world bicycle. The project is now being ramped up to include the ability for residents to purchase a bicycle in the real world through inworld kiosks to directly benefit a South African in need.

The developers of Virtual Africa in Second Life began selling virtual African bicycles a month ago and have sold nearly 150 bikes to date – less than 20 bikes shy of financing the purchase of a real world bicycle. The project is now being ramped up to include the ability for residents to purchase a bicycle in the real world through inworld kiosks to directly benefit a South African in need.

“Buying a real bike can vastly improve the life of a South African needing transportation to a job, and it only costs $130 US to make this happen,” explained Dorette Steenkamp (Alanagh Recreant in Second Life), co-executive director of Uthango Social Investments, a South African charity working directly in various urban and rural communities with people live in poverty. “For just L$41,700, Second Life residents can purchase a real world bicycle for a real world family.”

All Uthango bike kiosks give residents the option to purchase a real world bicycle. The new initiative is the second phase of the [e]bizikile fundraising drive to explore RL/SL integration. Inworld, residents can still purchase virtual African bicycles through the kiosks for L$250. The bicycles are designed by Shukran Fahid of !BooPeRFunK! and can be used to participate in a grid-wide virtual bike-a-thon in 2008.

“It takes the sale of 167 virtual bicycles to just buy one real world bike,” said co-executive director Erna Sittig who is Enakai Ultsch in Second Life. “We hope residents will help us meet the greater needs by purchasing the real world bike in addition to – or instead of – a virtual one”.

The [e]bizikile fundraising event brings attention to how bicycles fit into the economy in African cities and rural towns. It is combined with a dynamic FLICKR website, with more than 100 photos of African bicycles.

The [e]bizikile fundraising event is supported by Charitable Hearts, one of the largest charity groups in Second Life advocating for the work of a few selected charities. The e]bizikile African bicycles will be available from Uthango’s office in Second Life or from dedicated affiliated businesses. Web-enabled vendors donated by Hippo Technologies will dispense the bicycles. Free vendors are still available to interested companies, organizations or individual landowners in Second Life.

For more information about the virtual and real world African bicycles, contact Enakai Ultsch. Second Life residents can also join the [e]bizikile group or IM Alanagh Recreant for further details. To visit the Uthango offices in Second Life, go to http://slurl.com/secondlife/Sunset%20Commerce/60/82/22/.


Uthango Social Investments is a registered charity located in Cape Town, South Africa. It is the first African-based company and NGO officially in Second Life, where it will launch VIRTUAL AFRICA in 2008. Read more about the developers of Virtual Africa on http://slafrica.wordpress.com.

Uthango Social Investments is an investment and development company specialising in sustainable poverty eradication through innovation. It focuses on the digital divide, micro-enterprise development, intercultural dialogue, crime prevention, community mental health, and infrastructure development.


(see our previous coverage of Virtual Africa)

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