Sunday, May 25, 2014

Mentors Collaborate to Support Newcomers

 Virtual worlds can offer people from every background opportunities to work together to improve life for others. Over at Virtual Ability Island in Second Life®, the White Tiger Mentors, one of the oldest in-world mentoring groups in Second Life®, recently collaborated with the VAI Mentors from Virtual Ability, Inc. to learn more about supporting virtual world members with disabilities. Longtime VAI Mentor iSkye Silverweb led the first of a series of training sessions supporting mentors for increased success.

Mentors, like those in both White Tiger Mentors and VAI Mentors, are specially trained to work with newcomers to virtual worlds. They patiently teach basic skills and help newcomers navigate, communicate, and participate in the three-dimensional interactive social environment. For many mentors, encountering a newcomer who self-identifies as having a disability or mentions using assistive technology can feel challenging. The Virtual DisAbility: Awareness for Mentors collaborative training helps deepen mentors’ skills and knowledge.

Awareness is a critical first skill. So is a basic understanding of assistive technology and universal design relative to virtual world participation. After input and discussion, the group participated in a thorough walk-through of the award-winning Orientation Path designed by Virtual Ability, Inc. The Orientation Path, which is a model of universal design for learning, engages newcomers in “learning by doing,” and carefully builds abilities needed for in-world success. Mentors can assist, or supplement, the learning by providing one-on-one help.

What was the key learning for this group of experienced mentors? “It’s good to know we’re not alone in this,” noted White Tiger Mentor Ravena DeCuir. Claudius Quintus agreed. “Muito importante sua aula!” (Very important lessons!) Brock Levee added, “The three most important things in helping anyone are caring, understanding what they need, and taking action.” 

This series of trainings models all three of those, and participants agreed that continuing mutual support will benefit all. For more information, please contact iSkye Silverweb within Second Life®, or contact Virtual Ability, Inc. 

Virtual Ability, Inc. is a non-profit corporation based in Colorado, USA. Our 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®. Visit

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