Saturday, December 10, 2022

Healthinfo Island Displays and Exhibits for December 2022

You can teleport to any of the eight displays and exhibits using the SLURLs in this blog post. Click on the poster with the same name as the title of the poster set, and you will get a notecard that contains all the text of the posters plus descriptions of the images. 

If you click each poster, you will get a message with additional information and live links.

Central Pavilion of Healthinfo Island

Check out the calming breathing exercise on the back wall!

Seasonal Affective Disorder Awareness Month

Chronic Pain

National Influenza Vaccination Week Dec 5-9

Flu by the Numbers (and Letters)

Reduce Your Risk of an Aneurysm

Human Rights Day- Dec 10

Narcan (Naloxone)

Upgrade Your EQ

Thanks to Mook, Diva and Anna for assistance with the posters this month.

Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Car Care Tip- Batteries are Dangerous and Recyclable

Image of a car battery
Typical car battery

The car’s battery supplies electricity to start the engine, as well as being a surge suppressor for the car's computer. When the engine is off, it also provides power for items such as lights, stereo, GPS, wipers, or USB ports. It contains 21 pounds of lead and 1 gallon of sulfuric acid, encased in 3 pounds of plastic.

Not only are lead and sulfuric acid dangerous to human health, but under certain conditions it can produce explosive hydrogen or flammable and toxic hydrogen sulfide gas. Wear protective eyewear and sturdy gloves when handling car batteries.

However, if you must dispose of a car battery, recycle it. The lead plates inside can be melted down and reformed for use in constructing new batteries. The sulfuric acid can be neutralized and safely reclaimed. Even the plastic can be recycled into new battery cases.

To find out more about car battery safety:

For information on recycling car batteries:

Sunday, November 6, 2022

Healthinfo Island Displays and Exhibits for November 2022

You can teleport to any of the eight displays and exhibits using the SLURLs in this blog entry or by clicking on the pictures (which also link to the SLURLs). Once you get there, click on the poster with the same name as the title of the poster set, and you will get a notecard that contains all the text of the posters plus descriptions of the images. 

If you click each poster, you will get a message with additional information and live links.

Central Pavilion of Healthinfo Island

Check out the calming breathing exercise on the back wall!

National Family Caregivers Month

Eye Care and Disease Prevention

Ginkgo biloba

Raising Your HDL Cholesterol

Messages from Your "Cogfog"

Is your gut healthy or unhealthy?

Dense Breasts



Thanks to Mook, Shyla and Anna for assistance with the posters this month.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Save The Date! IDRAC 2022, October 28

Virtual Ability, Inc.® will present the 11th Annual International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference (IDRAC) on Friday, October 28, 2022.

This is an annual professional conference held online, that is free and open to the public.

The conference will take place in Second Life® at The Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability Island and will also be Live Streamed on YouTube. If you would like to join the conference in-world but do not have an account, please visit this link to sign up (it's free!): If you already have signed up, please click this link to attend the conference directly:

Our theme this year is “Access To Justice”.  We expect lively discussions and information sharing among presenters and our very interested and interactive audience.

Below is an at-a-glance schedule of the presenters who will share their observations of the progress, benefits and challenges in disability rights in different parts of the world as applied to this year’s theme.

IDRAC 2022 Schedule of Events

All times are in SLT/PDT.





7:00 AM

Hillary Sussman


Inclusive Children's Books; Promoting Self Confidence, Acceptance, and Kindness

8:30 AM

Hannah Mueller,
Kimberly Lopez

University of Waterloo

Poised Against Ableism: Contemporary Unmakings and Remakings of Disability Through Critical Disability Approaches

10:00 AM

Henry Germain-McCarthy

Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center

My Grateful, Continuing Journey into Awareness, Advocacy, and Allyship for Disability Rights

11:30 AM

Jeanette Cox

University of Dayton School of Law

Work Hours and Disability Justice

12:30 - 1:00 PM

Musical Interlude



1:00 PM

Nick Tilmes

New York University Center for Bioethics

Injustice in Hiring: How Algorithms Define and Redefine Disability

2:30 PM

Alice Krueger

Virtual Ability, Inc.

Justice Isn’t Always Comfortable: Utilitarian Ethics and Healthcare Decision-Making

IDRAC 2022 Speaker Biographies

Biographies are listed in order of scheduled presentation.



Hillary Sussman


Hillary Sussman has been a physical therapist for 23 years, and often works with children who lack self-confidence due to their disabilities. Sussman’s dog, Roxy, had undergone four surgeries, and gave her an idea how to help these children. Roxy’s story could show kids that their limitations do not have to give them a lesser quality of life. Sussman wrote a series of children’s books in which Roxy and her animal friends overcome their insecurities and are accepted by others in spite of their differences.

Kimberly Lopez


Dr. Kimberly Lopez (she/her) works as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. She is interested in critically examining social structures and processes that reinforce difference and marginalisation. As a community-engaged qualitative researcher, she is interested in aging and long-term care (LTC), care labour, and well-being. In particular, Kim values working collaboratively and creatively to amplify BIPOC and other Othered identities (gender, ability, class, ability, and age) in the context of caring labour and leisure – practices inextricably linked to the social through labelled bodies. To learn about practices of labour engaged in LTC caring work and hear about the different ways identity is embodied, Kim looks to influencers of anti-racist feminisms, anti-colonial/restorative practices, and post-identity literature/art.

Hannah Mueller


Hannah Mueller is a fourth-year PhD Candidate at the University of Waterloo (Ontario, CA). She has a Bachelor's degree in Therapeutic Recreation (2014) and a Master's degree in Recreation Management (2018) from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She has been a CTRS since 2014 and employed in the field of TR since 2012 working with various populations: SCI/TBI, geriatrics, mental health, and community-based programs. Her research is often situated at the nexus of leisure and disability. Her hobbies include knitting, traveling, and reading scholarly things.

Henry Germain-McCarthy


Dr. Henry Germain-McCarthy is Professor Emeritus at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (New Orleans). His research about and advocacy for disability rights is long-standing. He works to promote the legacies and leadership of disability activism movements and improve public awareness, professional education, and social policy regarding quality of life for all people. His work has brought him to more than 40 cities in the Caribbean, Central America, Europe, and the U.S. His most recent publication is titled “Self-Advocacy and Ally-Advocacy for Disability Justice: Organisational, Psychosocial, and Political Resources.”

Jeanette Cox


Jeannette Cox is a Professor of Law at the University of Dayton School of Law. Her research focuses primarily on disability and employment discrimination. She teaches courses in disability rights law, civil procedure and statutory interpretation. She also serves as faculty advisor for the Disability Law Association student group and a member of the executive committee for the American Association of Law Schools Disability Law Section.

Nick Tilmes


Nicholas Tilmes served as Program Manager and Research Assistant for New York University’s Center for Bioethics. His research focuses on the legal and ethical implications of emerging technologies, especially as they intersect with issues of disability rights, fairness, and privacy. Nicholas is a J.D. candidate at NYU School of Law and holds an M.A. in Bioethics from NYU.


Alice Krueger is the founder and CEO of Virtual Ability, Inc. A former science and health educator in classroom and K-12 special education, she never managed to purge the teacher germ from her bloodstream. Working as Gentle Heron in Second Life, she, along with other members of the Virtual Ability community, continues to promote evidence-based health and wellness learning.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

TIP - Are You Taking Your Medicines As Prescribed?

Did you know that half of all medications are not taken as the doctor prescribes them? That’s dangerous! The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates 125 thousand people die because they are not taking their meds properly each year in the US.

Here are some quick tips to help you stay on track with your meds.

  • Be sure you understand exactly how to take the medicine your doctor is prescribing. Ask questions before you leave the doctor’s office. Take notes if possible. You can also ask for a consultation with the pharmacist when you fill your prescription.

  • Take your medicine at the same time every day. Make it a routine, and it will be harder to forget to take it.

  • Write up or type and print off a schedule of when to take each medicine. Keep the list handy.

  • Use a weekly pill box, or put timer caps on your pill bottles.

For additional ideas from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

Friday, September 2, 2022

Healthinfo Island Displays and Exhibits for September 2022

You can teleport to any of the eight displays and exhibits using the SLURLs in this blog entry. Click on the poster with the same name as the title of the poster set, and you will get a notecard that contains all the text of the posters plus descriptions of the images.

If you click each poster, you will get a message with additional information and live links.

Central Pavilion of Healthinfo Island
Check out the calming breathing exercise on the back wall!

September is National Guide Dog Month

Constipation: Do’s and Don’ts

Protesting? Do It Safely


Better Driving with Chronic Pain

Resistant Hypertension

Oxalate and Kidney Stones

Foods for Sleep

Thanks to Mook and Anna for assistance with the posters this month.

Monday, August 22, 2022

What’s Your Purpose in Life?

Where do you want to go in life?

The purpose of your life is a focus or guidance for living. It is like the mission statement of a company. Everyone should have one.

If you don’t know what your purpose in life is, then your current purpose should be to define your purpose. And here are some steps to help you get started toward a more purposeful life.

  1. Self-awareness is a prerequisite for a purposeful life. Make a list (in your journal or on your computer) of your answers to the following questions.
    • What are your interests, the things that motivate you?
    • What are your values that guide your decision-making and are the foundation of your resilience?
    • What are your strengths, the core of your personality?

  2. Consider the following list of personality traits. Make a promise to yourself to develop these purposeful personality characteristics.
    • Forming friendships with people who have a sense of purpose
    • Spending time with supportive friends and avoiding those who are toxic
    • Ignoring what others think of you
    • Being optimistic
    • Having a good sense of humor
    • Being persistent toward your goals
    • Expressing gratitude daily

  3. Write a positive personal description. List only positives, no negative or neutral points. Include information about:
    • Whatever has been most important in your life (remember, positives only)
    • Your most calm, peaceful experiences
    • Your most exciting experiences

  4. Write another list of the things in your life that are most enjoyable to you. Be sure to include the following topics:
    • People and places
    • Activities and experiences
    • Thoughts and ideas
    • Sensory experiences

  5. Write one or more paragraphs to respond to the following questions:
    • What is important to me?
    • What do I want to accomplish in my life?
    • What impact do I want to have on the people in my life?
    • What will be my legacy when my life is over?
    • Who would the best possible “you” be?

  6. Review what you wrote for Steps 3, 4 and 5. Select five to ten words that are your best self-description. Use these words to write a positive sentence or two that is a narrowed down focus. That’s your purpose in life.

  7. Just as a company shouldn’t stop with writing a mission statement, but also need to act to accomplish its mission, you must hold yourself accountable for working toward your life purpose. How are you going to get there? Set personal goals and milestones to measure your success toward those goals. Envision your progress toward accomplishing your life purpose. 

Here are some additional resources:

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Resilience May Be More Important Than Happiness

Resilient person

Resilience is a personal ability to protect oneself from negative mental or emotional stressors with coping skills, in order to quickly return to normal. It is an important personal characteristic that allows an individual to be able to “move on” after a crisis event.

Resilience is not something anyone is born with. It is a set of learned skills, and anyone can improve their skillset. Using resilience skills becomes a habit that changes how you look at troubles and problems into seeing them as growth opportunities.

Resilience helps you become authentic, curious about the future and positively open and vulnerable to new experiences. You see the value of challenges and recognize the value of failures. Resilience also improves your overall mood by releasing serotonin.

Here are some skills you can practice to improve your resilience:

Saturday, August 20, 2022

Focus on Solutions, Not Problems

Your mind is the solution!

Most of us often engage in problem-centered thinking. It’s totally normal. However, because it tends to focus our attention on negatives, it is also an important factor in lowering your self-confidence. A healthier process would be to focus on solutions instead of problems. 

Another way to think of that is working toward goals. Here are some ways to move toward a more solution-focused than problem-focused thought process.

  1. Recognize when you are focused on problems. This type of thought can be experienced as anger, anxiety, depression, fear, guilt or stress. (Hint: This may be easier to recognize in someone other than yourself. What are you seeing in someone who is problem-focused?)
  2. Change to positive thinking about yourself. What were your successes in the previous day? What went well for you? (Hint: Even small positives count on this list.)
  3. Set a daily improvement goal. Choose one little thing to do differently tomorrow that will change your life path toward a solution focus. You are designing your preferred future.

Remember, you are learning a new skill. As you progress with new little daily goals, you will gradually acquire a solution-focused mindset rather than a problem-focused one. You will have improved your mental health and strengthened your resilience.

Some additional resources:

Monday, August 8, 2022

Healthinfo Island Displays and Exhibits for August 2022

You can teleport to any of the eight displays and exhibits using the SLURLs in this blog post. Click on the poster with the same name as the title of the poster set, and you will get a notecard that contains all the text of the posters plus descriptions of the images. 

If you click each poster, you will get a message with additional information and live links.

Central Pavilion of Healthinfo Island

Check out the calming breathing exercise on the back wall!

ICU Psychosis

Boredom or Burnout?

August 31 is International Overdose Awareness Day

Yo! Hangover, Dude!

The Vinegar Effect

Sugar, Fructose, Fruit

What is Neuropathy?

What is Spasticity?


Thanks to Virtual Ability members Mook and Anna for assistance with the posters this month.

Saturday, July 30, 2022

Is Your Pet Scared of the Vet?

Cat in an appropriate carrier

Although most pets don’t mind, or may actually enjoy, their trips to the veterinarian’s office, some are frightened and may become aggressive or hide from their owners. Here are some strategies to reduce your pet’s fear.

If your pet will ride in a carrier, let him or her get used to it inside the house first. Set it on the floor and leave it there for the pet to explore for a week before its first use in the car. Pad the bottom of the carrier with a fleece blanket. This is more comforting than a towel, and a lot more comfortable than bare wires. Some pets get so acclimated to their carriers that they will sleep inside them at home.

Be sure your pet is used to riding in the car with you. Ensure that your pet is comfortable. Preheat or precool the car so that it is a reasonable temperature. If your pet is riding in a carrier, cover the back and sides of the carrier so only the front is open to avoid excessive visual stimulation. 

If this is your pet’s first car trip, or if he or she is excessively nervous, practice small trips. Perhaps just back out of the driveway and return to the garage, with a treat at the end of the very short trip. Then extend the car ride gradually. A pet in a carrier can be taken through a drive-through. A pet on a leash might like to accompany you on an errand at the pet store. The idea here is to associate being in the car with a joyride, not just with a trip to the vet.

When you have arrived at the veterinarian’s office, the waiting room can be very traumatic for some pets. There are lots of strange people and other animals. The various smells and fear pheromones can upset some animals with nervous temperaments. So, limiting the time you spend waiting inside the office can help as your pet will be able to stay mainly in the familiar comfort of your car. Will the receptionist text or phone you when it is your pet’s turn to be seen?

Did you know that music can help calm pets down when you get back home from a vet visit? Try quiet calm classical or reggae, which many animals prefer. The reader’s voice from books on tape can also be relaxing. 

Don’t put off your pet’s necessary care just because they are afraid of the trip to the veterinarian’s office. It’s as important for our pets to have regular medical checkups and care as it is for ourselves.

Monday, July 25, 2022

Two Quick Tips on Choosing Healthy Foods

  • Include more fiber, protein, and healthy fat in your diet.

Fiber has many functions in your digestive system. Dietary fiber is important for preventing and relieving constipation. It can also help you lose weight and lower your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.

Fiber is often found in the skin of fruits and vegetables. This chewier layer helps you absorb sugar more slowly. It is not digested, but passes intact through the digestive system.

Protein has many uses. In the digestive system, proteins break down into amino acids that the body can then use to grow and repair itself. Proteins also act as enzymes, antibodies, and hormones. Some proteins are structural elements in the body.

Protein does not have to be from meat or fish. It is also found in nuts, seeds, and legumes. Eating plant-based proteins isn’t just for vegans and vegetarians.

Healthy fats are used by the body to provide energy, as insulation and padding, and to aid in nutrient absorption and hormone production.

Avocado, coconut oil and olive oil are all healthy fats. On the other hand, manufactured fats such as clear oils, and hard fats such as lard and butter, are not healthy, so avoid or restrict those in your diet.

  • Avoid foods that are sweet, white, or fluffy. These are typically over-processed and low in nutritional value.

Sugar is common in sweet foods, including candy, cookies, pastries, fruit juices, and even fruits. While fruits in moderation do provide healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals, don’t overdo them.

White packaged foods often are processed and packaged, and are full of sugar, salt, and preservatives. White vegetables such as cauliflower, turnips and parsnips, however, are healthy additions to your meals.

Fluffy foods to avoid include white bread, popcorn, and mashed peeled potatoes.

Eating healthier foods will lead to better overall health. Gradually implementing these two tips will improve your diet and increase your well-being.

Saturday, July 23, 2022

Call 988 for Mental Health Emergencies in the U.S.

People with mental health conditions may experience mental health emergencies. These are often signaled by changes in thought, mood, or behavior. The person may be at risk of harming themself or others.

Family members, friends and coworkers who are close to the person experiencing the mental health emergency may notice some of these signs:

  • agitation
  • difficulty accomplishing activities of daily living
  • extreme grief
  • extreme mood swings
  • isolation (or lack of social support)
  • paranoia
  • self-harm
  • substance abuse
  • suicidal ideation (or thoughts of death)
  • traumatic experience
  • troubled relationships
  • violence

The US now has a National Mental Health Hotline to help with these situations.

Call 988 to contact a trained counselor who can either offer coping strategies or referral to additional resources. The call is free and will support persons in crisis or those who care about them. It is managed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

It is expected that 988 will be as easy to recall during a mental health emergency as 911 is for other emergencies.

For more information:

Sunday, July 17, 2022

July is Disability Pride Month

Picture of Disability Pride Flag
Disability Pride Flag

by Virtual Ability member Gentle Heron

Who are the disabled?

People with disabilities form the largest and most diverse minority group on the planet. We are a naturally occurring part of overall human diversity. We are not adequately defined by dominant society’s often negative attitudes and feelings about us, nor do we deserve to be stigmatized as bad, wrong, or in need of repair.

Being disabled is the only minority group that it is simple to temporarily or permanently join by stepping clumsily off a curb or being in a traffic accident. Most individuals develop one or more disabilities as they age. If you’re not part of our community already, you are likely to join us in the future.

You can be a proud member of a variety of minority groups. Perhaps you are a queer First Nations woman wearing a right arm prosthesis who prefers mango sorbet over both chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Or maybe you are a Latino transman who crochets and has Type 2 diabetes. Whoever we are, we can have pride in ourselves.

Tarik Williams is a member of several minority groups. He is a tall, fit, Trinidadian African American man who is a weightlifter and a creative writer. He is also blind. His pride, his self- esteem, encourages him to embody the phrase “Me equals We.” Read his story here:

What is Disability Pride?

We can be proud that we, as a whole inclusive of all types of disabilities, make up about 15% of the world’s total population. We can be proud of our contributions to our families and to our local and broader communities. We can be proud of our individual identities. This special month puts us all in the spotlight.

The mission of Chicago’s Disability Pride Parade clearly expresses the purpose of Disability Pride Month:

  • “To change the way people think about and define “disability”;
  • To break down and end the internalized shame among people with Disabilities; and
  • To promote the belief in society that Disability is a natural and beautiful part of human diversity in which people living with Disabilities can take pride.”

Why was July chosen as Disability Pride Month?

July 26 marks the anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by then-President George H. W. Bush in 1990. Tireless advocacy by Justin Dart, Ed Roberts and numerous others led to this historic achievement. The first Disability Pride Day occurred in Boston in 1990, and they are now held around the world.

Color photo of President George H.W. Bush signing the Americans with Disabilities Act
President George H.W. Bush signing the
Americans with Disabilities Act

Black and white photo of Ed Roberts, disability civil rights advocate, protesting for civil rights
Ed Roberts, civil rights advocate

But we still have a long way to go to create the most accessible possible world. People with disabilities have lots of abilities. We just need the proper tools and environment to be able to use our abilities to their fullest.

That’s the main purpose of this Pride Month: To encourage public awareness, the first step toward achieving full accessibility. Education of the remaining 85% of the world’s population about the needs and achievements of our 15% is a positive action. 

What are some good ways to celebrate this special month?

The Virtual Ability community encourages everyone, disabled or temporarily able-bodied/minded, to learn more about disability rights and accessibility tools during the month of July. A good place to start is to take the pledge to become disability friendly.

You will find numerous additional ideas of disability-supportive actions you might take this month and in the future in the following list.

Some great accessibility resources: