Mental health awareness in Second Life

Virtual Ability Island

The Virtual Ability community in Second Life is hosting its sixth annual Mental Health Symposium on Saturday, May 27th, 2017, commencing at 06:00 SLT.

Virtual Ability Inc  (VAI) and the Virtual Ability community hosts this annual Symposium to share information about mental health and mental disabilities with the general population. Within this cross-disability community are people who deal with a variety of mental health issues. So, not only is this an opportunity for community members to learn more about topics related to mental health from experts they probably would not have an opportunity to otherwise meet, it also  allows the general public to attend a professional conference for free.

The theme of this year’s event is I can relate to that. It features an international presenters offering a wide interpretation of the theme, based on their interests and academic backgrounds. Attendees will learn ways to promote mental health for themselves and their families, how diet affects mental health, and how first responders and medical clinicians can improve their own mental health.

Sojourner Auditorium

The schedule is as follows (all times SLT):

  • 06:00: Tracy Burrows –  Diet, Nutrition and Food Addiction.
  • 07:30: Sarah Henderson and Kristin Klimley – First Responder Mental Health: The Importance of Training and Intervention.
  • 09:00: Joel Edman – Nutritional and Holistic Approaches to Stomach and Intestinal Disorders: Practical guidelines that can also be helpful for chronic and/or complex health issues.
  • 10:30: A selection of tours of sites related to mental health in Second Life – see below for more.
  • 12:00 noon: Ian Colman – Mental health promotion: What can you do for you and your loved ones?.
  • 13:30: Karen Davison  – Bridging the Divide: Exploring research in nutrition, mental health and food security.
  • 15:00: Diana Anderson – Virtual Windows: Design solutions to improve the mental health of clinical staff.
  • 16:30: Namaara MacMoragh  – Mental Health Following Brain Injury.

The Symposium takes place in Virtual Ability’s Sojourner Auditorium, on Virtual Ability island.

Mental Health Awareness exhibits, HealthInfo Island

May has traditionally been designated as Mental Health Awareness Month; so in addition to the symposium, and as noted above, the Virtual Ability community has a series of exhibits and displays related to mental health on its Healthinfo Island. Open to the public, these comprise:

When visiting an exhibit, click the title poster or display to get a full text note card; click each poster for live links and text chat. Other exhibits and displays on Healthinfo Island during May include:

About Virtual Ability

Virtual Ability, Inc. is a non-profit corporation, chartered in the state of Colorado, USA.  We are a non-profit tax exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. This means that for US citizens, contributions made are deductible as a charitable donation for federal income tax purposes.

For further information on the board of directors, please visit the Virtual Ability About Us page.

For those wishing to keep up with Virtual Ability news and updates when on the move, you can follow them on Twitter.

Related links


Virtual Ability: 2015 IDRAC in Second Life

Virtual AbilityVirtual Ability has announced the speakers and schedule for the 5th International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference (IDRAC), which will take place in Second Life on  Friday, November 13th and Saturday, November 14th, 2015, with the theme It’s All About the People.

The conference will take place at the Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability Island, and will feature presentations from Canada, Italy, Japan, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and the United States. Presentation will be of around 90 minutes duration, including time for discussion and breaks between, with the first session on each day starting at 09:00 SLT and the last at 15:00 SLT.

IDRAC 2015

Schedule of Sessions

The conference schedule, as it stood at the time of writing, was as follows. Please visit the conference page on the virtual Ability website for any updates and to read the biographies of the individual presenters. All times are SLT.

09:00 Effectiveness Study of a Community-Based Pain Clinic – Muhammad Abdul Hadi
The Edge of Normal – Hana Schank
The Right to be Rescued – Jordan Melograna
13:30 WORLDS APART: Why SL Makes Me More Normal Than RL – Mook Wheeler
15:00 Disability at Intersections: International Conversations on Disability in Relation to Other Identities and Social Justice Spectrum – Akemi Nishida

Friday. November 13th

The Sojourner Auditorium
The Sojourner Auditorium, virtual Ability Island

Saturday, November 14th

09:00 Who is The Sojourner? What is Dreams? – Golda Stein
Making a Difference, One Line of Code at a Time – Captain Code
People Helping People – Down to the Marrow – Katsii Tennen
13:30 Freaks: Stories of People on the Fringes of Life – Slatan Dryke
15:00 3:00pm – Closing Performance: ~DRUM~ (Divine Rhythms of Universal Music)


Related Links


Artistic timbres in second Life


Slayton Drake: A Palette of Timbres, Cape Able Art Gallery
Slatan Dryke: A Palette of Timbres, Cape Able Art Gallery

Saturday, June 20th saw the opening of a new exhibition featuring the art of Second Life photographer and sculptor, Slatan Dryke.

A Palette of Timbres, hosted at Virtual Ability’s Cape Able Art Gallery, presents 27 images captured by Slatan together with a number of his still and animated sculptures. As might be taken from the title of the exhibition, each of the images on display features strong tonal colours which mark them as much as – if not more so – than their subject matter.

Slayton Drake: A Palette of Timbres, Cape Able Art Gallery
Slatan Dryke: A Palette of Timbres, Cape Able Art Gallery

The result is a series of pictures, many of them of familiar places across Second Life, presented in the most striking of ways, where the choice of colour both projects a sense of texture and tone of mood – much as musical timbre is used to describe the deeper sense of tone and quality evidenced in the sound of music – light, dark, warm, bright, cool, and so on.

Of course, we’re all familiar with seeing colour in art, responding to its use and the way in which the artist makes use of his or her palette; but within several of the pieces here, there is the deliberate over-emphasis of certain colours and shades to present the subject matter in such a way as to almost give it a voice, a sound; perhaps even a harmony. Thus, the observer is offered a glimpse into the world of psychoacoustics which is in many respects, entirely in keeping with the place in which the exhibition is being hosted.

Which is also not to say that one needs to be deeply immersed in the theory of timbre and sound or the use of colour in order to appreciate the pieces on display. Slatan has a fine eye for composition – as fine a composer’s ear for music, one might be tempted to say –  and his images are exquisite in their detail and beauty, which makes them tempting additions for any collection or home.

Should you be interested in owning a copy of any of the pieces displayed, please keep in mind that Virtual Ability is a non-profit 501(c)3 organisation, and is prevented from allowing third parties such as artists from selling directly on their regions; so please contact Slatan directly.

Slayton Drake: A Palette of Timbres, Cape Able Art Gallery
Slatan Dryke: A Palette of Timbres, Cape Able Art Gallery

While visiting Cape Able, do make sure you visit the resource centre there, and learn more about Virtual Ability’s work with the hearing impaired, including their Deaf Chat Coffee house – see iSke’s comments following this article on the work there. Also be sure to visit the Fenimore Art Museum, which is currently hosting an exhibition of the work of American artist and illustrator, Maxfield Parrish.

SLurl Details


Virtual Ability announce IDRAC speakers and schedule

Virtual AbilityVirtual Ability has announced the speakers and schedule for the 4th International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference (IDRAC), which will take place in Second Life on October 3rd and 4th, 2014 under the title of “Technically, we’re accessible… right?” Exploring True Inclusion in the Digital World.

The conference will take place at the Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability Island, with the first presentation taking place at 05:30 SLT on Friday October 3rd. Speaking at the event will be:

  • Babar Shahzad Chaudary. a Doctoral Researcher for Mobile Computing/Embedded Systems at University of Oulu, Finland
  • Catherine Easton, who will be speaking on access to the Internet and human rights
  • David Sloan, who will present From Checklist Accessibility to Accessible User Experiences
  • Dr. Edmund F. LoPresti, an adjunct faculty in the Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology at the University of Pittsburgh, who will be speaking on Assistive Technology for Computer Access
  • Gregg Vanderheiden, who will be discussing AutoPersonalization in Real and Second Life
  • Laura Hall, who will be presenting Fun for Everyone: Assistive Technology for Video Gaming
  • Gunela Astbrink, an ICT policy advisor and researcher
  • Brian Kelly, presenting Web accessibility is not (primarily) about conformance with web accessibility standards
  • Tim Creagan, Sr. Accessibility Specialist at U.S. Access Board
  • Anthony Giannoumis, presenting A Revaluation of the Cultural Dimension of disability policy in the EU: the impact of digitization and web accessibility
  • blondieCART, iSkye Silverweb, and Gentle Heron from Virtual Ability, presenting Hear With Your Eyes – How It’s Done
  • Joel Foner, presenting Wait, what was that? Using inclusion to create a huge win for everyone, not just those who ‘need it’
  • Tom Boellstorff, presenting Bytes and Pixels: The Social Impact of Digital Inclusion.
The open-air Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, location for the 2014 ISRAC conference, to be hosted by Virtual Ability Inc
The open-air Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, location for the 2014 ISRAC conference, to be hosted by Virtual Ability Inc

Full details of the two-day programme, which will include social activities as well as the main speaker programme, can be found on the Virtual Ability blog. Attendance for the event is open to all, and Virtual Ability extend a warm invitation to anyone wishing to attend.

Related Links


Virtual Ability Inc announce IDRAC 2014

Virtual AbilityOn Sunday  September 7th, Virtual Ability Inc., announced the 4th International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference (IDRAC) take place in Second Life on October 3rd and 4th, 2014.  The theme for the 2014 conference is “Technically, we’re accessible… right?” Exploring True Inclusion in the Digital World.

Details of speakers, and presentations will follow in due course. for now, Virtual Ability extend an open invitation to all to attend the weekend’s conference, stating:

Join colleagues, friends, and community members for presentations on web accessibility, advances in assistive technology, creating an accessible user experience, accessible gaming, emerging standards for technology, and more! Presenters from Spain, U.K., U.S., and Australia will join us at The Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability Island within Second Life.

Why don’t you join us, too? 

The conference will take place at the Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability Island, and I’ll be covering the programme and speakers through these pages as they are announced.

The open-air Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, location for the 2014 ISRAC conference, to be hosted by Virtual Ability Inc
The open-air Sojourner Auditorium, Virtual Ability Island, location for the 2014 IDRAC conference, to be hosted by Virtual Ability Inc

In the meantime, those wishing to know more about the conference, its focus and aims, should contact or Sister Abeyante in-world.

Related Links


Help Virtual Ability in a healthcare study

Virtual AbilityVirtual Ability are seeking volunteers (primarily in the United States) to help with a nationwide healthcare research project.

The research, which is being carried out in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, is intended to assess the level of access to quality healthcare people with disabilities have in the US, with a focus on determining if people with disabilities who get better healthcare stay healthier and are able to live independently longer than do those who get lower quality healthcare. A unique part of the study is that not only are people with disabilities providing data for the researchers, but some people with disabilities will be involved as members of the research team.

The study will run for three years, and will involve research into quantitative and qualitative care:

  • The quantitative portion of the study will yield findings about how access and healthcare quality, as perceived by thousands of Medicare beneficiaries of all ages, impacts the progression of their disabilities and their survival
  • The qualitative portion of the study will be conducted in an urban setting in Wisconsin and also in Second Life. It will use Focus Groups that provide a “voice” to the general public with the aim of revealing relationships among quality of health care and access to high quality healthcare for persons at varying levels of impaired function and disability.

Second Life users, disabled and able-bodied, are being invited to be a part of a Focus Group within the qualitative portion of the study. In all, there will be three types of Focus Group: people with a disability or their proxies; people without disabilities; and clinicians; volunteers are being sought to participate in all three.

Those joining a Focus Group will be asked to participate in a variety of activities, some of which will be limited to just a few people at a time while others will be open to the general public. A commitment to the full three years of the study is not required; anyone wishing to withdraw from the study can do so any time in the process.

Volunteer Involvement

Second Life users wishing to volunteer to be a part of a Focus Group must:

  • Be a US citizen (non-citizens can participate in other ways)
  • Be a person 21 years of age or older
  • Have at least 3 months of experience in Second Life and be able to communicate in text (with ADA accommodations).

In addition, the following criteria also apply to volunteers:

  • Those wishing to participate as a person with a disability or their proxy must:
    • Be a person with one or more disabilities (physical, mental, emotional, or sensory), OR
    • Be a provider of personal care to a person with a disability and serve as their proxy  (e.g. sharing their likely opinions or experiences because they are unable to do so directly)
  • Non-disabled people wishing to apply must not have a disability at this time AND must be a person who is not caring for a person with a disability at this time
  • Clinicians wishing to be a part of the study must be a practicing health professional AND have had clinical experience in the provision of care to people with and without disabilities

If you are willing to participate as a research subject, please send an IM to Sister Abeyante (or email her at,  indicating whether you wish to participate as a person with a disability, a non-disabled person or a clinician.

You will receive a consent form (note card) by return with further information on the study.

  • Please read through the note card, and feel free to forward any questions you have about the research (and / or the research process, and / or your involvement in the study) using the contact information provided on the note card
  • When you are satisfied you are willing to participate in the research, please follow the directions on the note card (typing your name and renaming the note card) and return a copy to Sister Abeyante in-world.

Within a week of returning your consent form, you will receive a unique URL that will allow you to take a demographic survey. This survey will ask you questions about yourself, your health, and your life circumstance. Your responses to this survey will be kept strictly confidential by the University of Pennsylvania.

Within a few months of taking the survey, people will be randomly selected to participate in a private Focus Group meetings which will be held in Second Life, and will discuss a variety of questions of interest to the researchers, including interpretation of statistical results. There will be separate Focus Group meetings for people with disabilities (or their proxies), people without disabilities, and clinicians.

As the study will continue for two additional years, those chosen to join future Focus Groups will be asked to re-sign a consent form ahead of their participation to confirm their continued interest in the research.

The Research Pavilion at Healthinfo Island will host public elements of the study
The Research Pavilion on Healthinfo Island will host public elements of the study

Public Involvement

Anybody interested in the topic of healthcare quality, but who does not qualify or does not want to be a research subject can participate in the public portion of the study by:

If you have further questions concerning this study, please contact: Sister Abeyante in Second Life, or email

For and on behalf of Virtual Ability Inc.