Monday, August 27, 2012

Benefits of Virtual Worlds for People with Lifelong Disability

PRESENTER:  Kenyon Serenity, Researcher, Molde University College, Norway
Monday August 27, 10 am PDT
The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

Kenyon will present her initial findings from her PhD work, with working title "What are the affordances offered by Virtual Worlds for people with lifelong disability?"

Focus for this presentation is identifying the gaps in current literature in this field, and how people with lifelong disability relate to their virtual selves and others.

Presenter Bio: Kenyon is a researcher at Molde University College, Norway, working on her PhD focusing on virtual worlds and people with lifelong disability.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Virtual Ability Wins Reader's Choice Award from "Virtual Education Journal"

Thank you educators and readers of the "Virtual Education Journal"  for recognizing Virtual Ability Island as winner of the Reader's Choice Award for "Best Orientation Tutorial/Sim/Website For Newcomers."

The design of VAI's New Resident Orientation Course is based on principles of andragogy and the theory of Universal Design. Andragogy describes principles of learning by adults, rather than children. Universal Design states that products and environments should be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Advanced Use of Dragon NaturallySpeaking in Second Life

PRESENTER: Elric Anatine
Saturday May 26, 2012, 2 pm PDT
The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

While it is fantastic to be able to chat within Second Life®, and interact in a basic sense with one's environment, some individuals may find it useful to explore advanced features both within Dragon NaturallySpeaking and Second Life® to accomplish much more.

To be discussed are:
  • Using Dragon's MouseGrid Within Second Life®
  • Creating step-by-step Dragon commands for easier interaction with Second Life®
  • Creating very basic Advanced Scripting Dragon commands
  • Taking advantage of text and graphics commands (also available in Dragon NaturallySpeaking Premium)

Prerequisites:  Those who wish to benefit the most should already own and be comfortable with Dragon NaturallySpeaking Professional/Legal/Medical.  Other users of Dragon NaturallySpeaking may also benefit from some aspects of the discussion.  Resources will be provided with respect to optimal computer specifications, Dragon NaturallySpeaking versions, and so forth.  Resources and sample Dragon commands will also be provided.

Presenter Bio:  Approximately 15 years ago, Elric Anatine became stricken with computer-related repetitive strain injury, which resulted in severe, lifelong upper limb limitations and pain.  As a result, Elric taught himself how to use Dragon NaturallySpeaking, and learned about other computer-related ergonomic devices.  This led to a career in providing speech recognition solutions.

Five years ago Elric entered Second Life® and almost abandoned the virtual world until he was introduced to the Logitech game pad for navigation and interaction.  Dragon NaturallySpeaking proved to be a disappointment at that time, but Elric remained ever hopeful that a day would come when it was more usable.  Thankfully, and hopefully, that day is now.

Elric presents in text, demonstrating the capability of Dragon NaturallySpeaking. If needed, voice transcription is available.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Health Literacy in Virtual Worlds Study

PRESENTER: Evelyn McElhinney (Second Life Avatar: Kali Pizzaro)
Tuesday May 8, 2012 11:30am PDT
Research Pavilion, Healthinfo Island, Second Life

McElhinney is doing her PhD study on "Health literacy/Health information skills of people who access health information in 3D virtual worlds and the influence on real life health behaviour." Her research is ethical/IRB passed.

The purpose of her study is to better understand how people seek out, understand and use health information found in virtual worlds and if it influences real life health behaviour.

At this presentation in Second Life, McElhinney will be recruiting study participants who have accessed health information in a 3D virtual world. The health information could be in any form - a talk from a healthcare practitioner, a support group, a quiz, therapy info presented by sign or notecard, or any other way.

McElhinney will explain the details of the study and answer any questions you may have.  A  notecard giver with the information will also be available so you can take it and think about whether you wish to participate, then contact her later.

Presenter Bio: Evelyn McElhinney is Registered Nurse and Registered Nurse Lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University in Scotland. She is also a Doctoral Student (part time) at Glasgow Caledonian University. She was in clinical practice for 13 years and has been full time at the University for 6 years. She has presented at national and international conferences and published in peer reviewed journals.

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

TED Talk Discussion: The Meaning of Disability

HOST: Theodore Theseus
Sunday, April 1, 2012, 2 pm PDT
and repeated
Monday, April 2, 2012, 11 am PDT
Blue Orchid Cabana Classroom, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

The thesaurus might equate "disabled" with synonyms like "useless" and "mutilated," but ground-breaking runner Aimee Mullins is out to redefine the word. Defying these associations, she shows how adversity -- in her case, being born without shinbones -- actually opens the door for human potential.

We'll view the interesting TED Talk "The opportunity of adversity" together (inworld or in your browser) and discuss it in text.

Host Bio: Theodore is a retired public administrator with 30 years of service to the State of Vermont. His experience includes having worked for many years with the Attendant Services Program for the Department of Independent Living,  a program that provided funding that allowed individuals with challenges in activities of daily living to remain independent with minimal assistance. Theodore is a big fan of TED Talks and has listened to hundreds of them.

Monday, March 26, 2012

TBI: The Signature Injury of Modern Warfare and its Impact on Veterans' Lives

PRESENTER: Cindy Tandy / (Second Life Avatar: Eve Maven)
Friday March 30, 2012 4pm PDT
Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

TBI is a common injury sustained by veterans of modern wars. How does it impact their lives after their physical recovery?

Presenter Bio: Cindy Tandy, Ph.D., LCSW, is an Associate Professor of Social Work at Valdosta State University's graduate MSW Program. She is also an administrator of the Valdosta State University island/sim in Second Life.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month
Presentation Co-Sponsored by Etopia and Virtual Ability

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Traumatic Brain Injury: New Understanding

PRESENTER: Dr. Allen Brown, physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic
Thursday March 29, 2012, noon PDT
Mayo Clinic conference center, Mayo Clinic island, Second Life

Traumatic Brain Injury is a condition that can vary in severity and impact on a person. New research on this condition has revealed better ways to treat it, and dispelled some of the myths that have surrounded it. This will be a presentation and Q&A session.

Presenter Bio: Dr. Allen Brown is an Associate Professor of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Mayo Clinic with an appointment in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. His biographical information, including a list of publications and research activities, is available at

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month
Presentation Co-Sponsored by Etopia and Virtual Ability

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.

Friday, March 23, 2012

On the Job with a Traumatic Brain Injury

PRESENTER:  Melanie Whetzel, JAN Senior Consultant (Avatar name: JAN Xomotron)
Thursday March 29, 2012 10 am PDT
Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

A presentation on workplace accommodation ideas for individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury. Offered by the Job Accommodation Network, a federally-funded agency that provides free, expert, and confidential guidance on workplace accommodations and disability employment issues.

Presenter Bio: Melanie joined the JAN staff as a consultant on the Cognitive / Neurological Team in February 2008. She has a fourteen year history of teaching and advocating for students with special needs in the public school system.

Melanie holds a Master of Arts degree in Special Education, a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and has earned forty-eight hours above masters level. Her post-graduate work has been primarily focused on special education.

As a member of the Cognitive / Neurological Team, Melanie specializes in learning disabilities, mental impairments, developmental disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, and brain injuries.

Melanie's research interests include bipolar disorder, sleep disorders, and Alzheimer's disease.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month
Presentation Co-Sponsored by Etopia and Virtual Ability

Presented simultaneously in voice and text.

Rehabilitation for a Patient with Traumatic Brain Injury in the US and Japan

PRESENTERS: ALiesel and ScubbaSteve
Saturday March 24, 2012 noon PDT
Research Pavilion, Healthinfo Island, Second Life

For the tour:
Adaptation Home, Occupational Therapy Center

Around the world, interdisciplinary healthcare teams work together to care for people who have experienced traumatic brain injuries. The presenters recently participated in a four-day web conference on this topic with Occupational Therapy students in Japan, and they learned a lot! Come hear how Occupational Therapists in the United States and in Japan work with other healthcare professionals to provide treatment for patients with traumatic brain injuries.

Following the presentation, please join the presenters at the Thomas Jefferson Occupational Therapy Center for a brief tour of the Adapted Home, where we will view cognitve adaptations for a person with a traumatic brain injury. Use the landmark for the Adaptation Home above.

Presenter Bios:  ALiesel and ScubbaSteve are occupational therapy students at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.  They work with Zsuzsa Tomsen as graduate assistants for the Thomas Jefferson Occupational Therapy Center in Second Life, which includes several exhibits: the Garden of Healthy Aging, the Adaptated Home and the Adapted Playground. 

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month
Presentation Co-Sponsored by Etopia and Virtual Ability

Presentation in text, with optional voice transcription.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Neurobiology of PTSD

Tuesday March 20, 2012 1pm PST
Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

The brain is an amazing organ. Injuries such as those which are associated with PTSD may never heal. But the brain is "plastic," which means the functions damaged by the brain injury can be relearned by other parts of the brain.

Presenter Bio:  Anya Ibor is the Founder and Executive Director of Fearless Nation PTSD Support, a 501c3 NonProfit Organization dedicated to providing free public education, support and advocacy for the understanding of PTSD. Since 2009 Fearless Nation has provided a virtual therapeutic support group.

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month
Presentation Co-Sponsored by Etopia and Virtual Ability

Presentation in voice, with text transcription.

Monday, February 13, 2012

UN, Social Justice, Disability and HIV/AIDS

PRESENTER: DyVerse Steele
Wednesday February 15, 11 am PST
Thursday February 16, 5 pm PST
Healthinfo Island, Second Life

HIV/AIDS and Disability is a growing social and long-term health issue.  We will explore the implications of HIV/AIDS on the disabled and the long-term effects of HIV/AIDS towards developing a disability.

Presenter Bio:  DyVerse has been HIV + for  10 years and has worked with  various support groups  both in real life and in Second Life, providing  education and peer support for  people living with  HIV/AIDS.

Another in Virtual Ability's series: Waiting on the World to Change.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Human Factors and Universal Design: Light, dark, sound, and noise

PRESENTER: Julie (Lolli) Bluebird
Saturday February 4, 2012 5:30 pm PST
The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

Introduction to the effects of light, dark, sound and noise in our home environments; the pros and cons and what we can do to help ourselves. Julie Bluebird is from the UK, and has a background in psychology.

Another in Virtual Ability's series: Waiting on the World to Change.

Are Disability Rights Human Rights Too?

 ... the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

PRESENTER: Oronoque Westland
Wednesday February 1, 2012, 1 pm PST
The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

A discussion of the significance of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, with time for Q&A.

Presenter Bio: Oronoque Westland (SL)/Roberta Walker Kilkenny (RL) teaches Caribbean history, economic transformation and women's studies at a NYC university.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The WHO/World Bank Report on Disability...

...What it means for research, human rights efforts and you

PRESENTER: Bathsheba Darkfold (SL) / Katie Vizenor (RL)
Sunday January 29, 2012, 11 am PST
Tuesday, January 31, 2012, 5 pm PST
The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, Second Life

On September 12th and 13th, 2011, The World Health Organization and World Bank hosted a two day discussion to celebrate the publication of their World Report on Disability. The presenter, a disability policy researcher and PhD candidate was lucky enough to attend. This presentation will provide a brief overview of some of the interesting findings.

Presenter Bio:  In real life, I am Katie Vizenor, a disability policy researcher and PhD candidate in Anthropology at SUNY-Buffalo. I have been conducting ethnographic research in Second Life since 2008.

Another in Virtual Ability's series: Waiting on the World to Change.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Waiting for the World to Wake Up to Trauma's Toll

PRESENTER: DrFran Babcock
Friday February 3, 2012, 4 pm PST
The Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability, Second Life

This talk is going to frame many of the problems of the world today in the context of the outcomes of early trauma and abuse. Through this lens the idea of Sanctuary and Trauma-informed Care become the only way to move to the future. The Adverse Childhood Experiences study, the Sanctuary Model, and the work of van der Kolk will be highlighted

Presenter Bio:  DrFran Babcock is the avatar of a long time Occupational Therapist and administrator in a psychiatric hospital. She has 30 years of experience in Behavioral Health, and is an advocate for the needs of the mentally ill. She has published a book, several articles, and a chapter in a textbook on netiquette, which contains information about Second Life.

Another in Virtual Ability's series "Waiting for the World to Change."

VAI Art Tour- Winter Nightfire

ARTIST: Winter Nightfire
Saturday, January 28, 2012, 4 pm PST
Winter's Gallery, Hotel Chelsea, Lanestris Sim, Second Life  (Mature sim)

This is the next in the series of Art Tours conducted by Nutron Ornitz.

Artist Bio:  Winter Nightfire is a self-taught painter from San Francisco, California.  Her exposure to Abstract Expressionism began at age 16.  She displayed her first painting at a group show with her mentors in 2001 at age 24, and has been showing solo at venues across San Francisco ever since.  Nightfire also has been painting live alongside her partner, Filthy Fluno, for the last 3 years at SLCC.

Inspired by light and the language of texture, Nightfire's signature metallics and the frequent appearance of black and white in her works illustrate her emphasis on contrast to give meaning to various combinations of form and color. 

"The painting is the boss," explains Nightfire,  "It tells me what it needs to become a story, movement by movement, gesture by gesture.  My job as the painter is to listen visually and to give the evolving work what it asks me to provide.  These lines, shapes and colors merely represent transcriptions of my conversations with space."

Digital Life & Wellness Survey in Second Life

PRESENTER: Avatar Name: Katherine Cunningham
Wednesday, January 25, 2012, 1 pm PST
Research Pavilion, Healthinfo Island, Second Life

This presentation will discuss study specifics of the Digital Life & Wellness Survey conducted by RTI International. Topics of discussion include the purpose of the study, eligibility requirements, and what participants can expect if asked to participate. This presentation will also include information about study participant's rights, the risks and benefits of participating in this study, how RTI International will protect participant's information, and what RTI International expects to do with these findings. The presentation is expected to last 15-20 minutes, followed by time for questions/answers. 

Qualified participants earn L$1000. Qualified participants will have or once have had cancer, chronic pain, diabetes, or other chronic conditions.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Welcome to the Virtual Ability Blog and Social Media!

Virtual Ability hosts a thriving and diverse community of support in virtual worlds for people with disabilities and those who are in some way part of their lives.  On our blog, we'll post articles about the wide range of events, discussions, presentations and announcements by and for our community.

We have also set up a Facebook fan page that we encourage you to Like, a Facebook group where we encourage your participation, and a Twitter feed that you can follow.

Virtual Ability supports a robust and active community within virtual worlds. With these new social media links, we look forward to expanding our conversation with you... and introducing our services and the wonderful benefits our virtual community can provide to a wider audience.  We hope to talk with you soon!

Gentle Heron
President, Virtual Ability, Inc.