As 2020 marks the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act, this year’s conference will have a particular focus on Disability Right, both in the United States and globally, under the theme Where have we been? Where are we headed? How should we get there?
The conference will again feature an international line-up of guest speakers, and for those who cannot make the in-world venue, it will be live streamed via the Virtual Ability You Tube channel. Individual sessions will last between 30 and 90 minutes, and may include opportunities for Q&A.
Schedule of Sessions.
The following is a summary of the conference and speakers / subjects. For more detailed information, including biographies on the participating speakers, please visit Virtual Ability’s IDRAC 2020 conference page, which will also include any updates to the schedule that may occur between now and the conference.
Note all times below are SLT and apply to Saturday, October 10th, 2020.
Manohar Swaminathan (Microsoft Research India) – Ludic Design for Accessibility
Amelia Fiske (Technical University of Munich) – Exploring Ethical and Social Implications of Embodied AI
Margaret Nosek (Baylor College of Medicine) – Memories of 1996, the White House signing of the Americans with Disability Act
Barry Whaley (Southeast ADA Center) – Who are the Heroes? A History of the Disability Rights Movement
David Larson (Hamline School of Law, Dispute Resolution Institute) – TBA
Krista Watson (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) – Employment and the ADA
Rhoda Olkin (Alliant International University) – Women with Disabilities: Experiences of Microaggressions
Be sure to save the date in your calendar / diary.
Open for the Autumn period (or spring, for those living in southern latitudes) is Where Our Journey Begins (I’m assuming the “begings” apparent in the name at the time of our visit is a typo), a Homestead region designed by Vivian Ewing and Dream Shadowcry.
Offered as a place to relax and take photographs (which can be shared through the region’s Flickr group), it’s a setting that appears to be caught in a forever sunset, quite the romantic time of day (although admittedly, I opted to run my own daylight settings while visiting), and which is visually impressive both in its layout and for one or two ideas it might give to those who like to fiddle with their own homes.
Where Our Journey Begins sits with a north-south orientation as a horseshoe shaped island, the open end of which looks westward towards the lowering Sun. Cupped within the arms of this horseshoe is a deep inlet, no doubt cut by the waters falling from the high curtain of rock that forms a major part of the island’s eastern aspect, the falls within it sitting as a series of high steps down which the waters tumble to reach the curved bay.
The open end of this bay is spanned by a broad stone bridge that connects the north and south aspects of the island and provides visitors with a landing point. Whatever traffic this bridge once witnessed has now largely passed: its stone surface is now the home of long grass and even young trees have gained a foothold at either end of it’s span. As well as being the landing point, this bridge offers a place to sit and the first opportunities to take photographs within the region as it is subject to the periodic sweeping gaze of the off-shore (but still within the boundary of the region) lighthouse.
The northern and southern arms of the island offer places to visit and appreciate. To the north, the bridge leads visitors to where a flat-topped table of rock thrusts out from the much higher curtain of waterfalls. A path curls up the side of this table, the easiest way to reach the top. As it does so, it passes the flat toes of the cliffs, a place of long grass shaded by autumn-shaded willows and green fir trees and is the home of a old carousel and its ticket booth and pipe organ.
The top of the table presents a summer house set within its own grounds (but open to the public) and with plenty of detail within and without – I admit to particularly liking the manner in which a glass-walled pavilion has been converted into a cosy outdoor bathroom warmed by its own wood-burning stove.
Stone steps guarded by old concrete gate posts point the way down from the terrace behind the summer house to a broad lip of rock that offers a secluded hideaway and place to sit. A second path just to the right of the one that rises up the the plateau, slopes gently down to where a small meadow sits under the arms of two huge oak trees and sheltered by a rich growth of the bushes, the home to a wooden gazebo warmed by a stone-built fireplace.
The southern end of the island presents a further table of grass-topped rock, this one lower than the one to the north. It is home to what may have once been farm outbuildings – a windmill and a couple of barns. However, while one of the barns still provides shelter for sheep, this area now looks to be more of a garden space; the second barn has been converted into another little summer house / music room, three of its walls now fitted with windows, the space between it and the other barn fenced as a little wild garden.
From this southern spur, it is possible to walk down to the island’s shoreline and the shingle beaches that border three sides of it. Two of these beaches offer further places to sit – an open deck to the south, and a little beach house with canvas sides and roof and extended deck to the west. Looking towards the lighthouse, this beach house is fronted by an old pier, matched by one at the foot of the lighthouse, both of them suggest a route between island and lighthouse, although sadly, there is no rowing bone to traverse it. However, you can cam-sit yourself onto the boat tied-up at the lighthouse pier – a method that also lets you avoid the disapproval of the seagulls who have laid claim to both of the old piers!
I’m not sure how long Where Our Journey Begins will remain open to the public. As noted, it’s About Land details indicate it is available for public visits for the “Fall season”, so I presume that as it has apparently only opened recently, it’ll remain available to the public until at least mid-to-late October – but don’t quote me on that!
Overall, the region makes for a photogenic and engaging visit, although some adjustment to viewer settings might be required to get the best FPS when wandering (I had to switch to a lower draw distance to keep my FPS at least in the teens). It’s a setting that is well put together and offers a lot to discover and appreciate.