Hi all! By now you probably know I am the ballgown-loving, fin-flipping mermaid who lives at Virtual Ability. And yes, I know ballgowns aren't exactly compatible with a tailfin, but hey, it's SL! I can transform easily.
What some of you might not know is that I am a blind Second Life user. I use a viewer called Radegast. You can find it here:http://radegast.life
I have decided to write this post to answer some frequently asked questions about life in Second Life and Radegast viewer use. Q - I have never heard of Radegast. What is it?
A - Radegast is a text-based viewer for use in virtual worlds. It does have limited 3D view capabilities but these were never fully developed. What has been developed, however, is its accessibility and ease-of-use for those of us who are blind. Q - Do I need money in Second Life?
A - No. No money is needed in the virtual world. However, you can transfer real life currency into Linden dollars if you so choose. And once acclimated with Radegast and in world life, you can work a job if you want or do something for fun to earn a little extra like trivia, fishing, or themed contests. Q - What is possible in Second Life?
A - Second Life is a world with endless possibilities. If you can dream it, you can probably do it here. The environment is surprisingly accessible for those who use a screen reader and, as awareness grows among other residents and creators, so does the level of access. Virtually the only two things we can not do right now are drive and build. But, no one drives much in SL unless for sport. Teleportation is definitely the way to go here!Q - What kinds of places can I explore?
A - There are clubs, non-profit organizations, roleplaying sims, universities and colleges offering credit courses, groups with dedicated sims, dance halls, concert venues, parks, cities, museums and even some real world replicas of well-known places (e.g., Yosemite National Park, the Pyramids of Egypt, Machu Pichu)!Q - How do I get started?
A - If you want to join Second Life, you will want to register on Virtual Ability's website for a Second Life account. The reason for this is because when you log in with Radegast, you will be on Virtual Ability's orientation island where, if you've scheduled an appointment with us, we can be waiting to help you gain your inworld feet.
It is not necessary for you to schedule an appointment with us, but we do encourage it, just because Second Life is such a huge place and it can be overwhelming at first. We want to make it as easy as possible for you to get started.
After you register at virtualability.org
and download the latest version of Radegast. Note that there is a how-to tutorial for Radegast on the site. We strongly encourage you to reference that often as you learn.Q - Why do I have to make an appointment? Shouldn't there be someone around whenever I log online?
A - Second Life is a huge place with things going on all the time. It is a 24-7 world that never sleeps. We could be taking part in an event elsewhere, relaxing at our favorite sim, or we could be in real life with our families. We are all volunteers and can not monitor the entry point for Virtual Ability at all times. It is not possible.Q - I know what is possible for sighted users, but what about blind people?
A - While we can not build currently in the virtual world, we can do most everything else. We can shop, manage our own wardrobe, interact at events, dance, etc. My favorite activity is fishing; I am hopelessly addicted to it, but that is just my preference. Everyone will find their own place in this world. It's the way Second Life is designed. And because Second Life is an ever-evolving platform and Radegast an open source viewer, anything is possible!
I hope these questions and answers have helped you somewhat as you decide whether or not to join us in the world of Second Life. If you do decide to come in, we will be happy to help you as much as we can. We were all new residents once and we remember what it is like!