Virtual 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.
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.
Friday, November 13th
Effectiveness Study of a Community-Based Pain Clinic – Muhammad Abdul Hadi
The Edge of Normal – Hana Schank
The Right to be Rescued – Jordan Melograna
WORLDS APART: Why SL Makes Me More Normal Than RL – Mook Wheeler
Disability at Intersections: International Conversations on Disability in Relation to Other Identities and Social Justice Spectrum – Akemi Nishida
Saturday, November 14th
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
Freaks: Stories of People on the Fringes of Life – Slatan Dryke
3:00pm – Closing Performance: ~DRUM~ (Divine Rhythms of Universal Music)
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.
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.
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.
Virtual 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.
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.
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.
On 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.
Virtual 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org), 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.
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:
Radegest is a lightweight client for OpenSim and Second Life available for Windows, Linux and Mac. As well as providing text-based capabilities, it was the first lightweight Second Life client to offer a 3D world view (windows and Linux), allowing users on low-end systems to have a visual experience when using a virtual world.
Offering a similar level of capabilities and interaction as a full viewer, and supporting recent updates and improvements to the SL service (mesh rendering, HTTP protocol updates, Marketplace Direct Delivery, Server-side Appearance, etc.), Radegast has become very popular among users with visual impairments and with audio gamers. So much so that Roxie Marten and Celene Highwater of Virtual Ability Inc., have written a comprehensive Accessibility Guide to help people get started with Second life through Radegast. This not only serves as an excellent introduction for the visually and aurally impaired, but forms a thorough introduction for anyone wishing to gain familiarity with using Radegest.
Because of Radegast’s popularity among the visually impaired, Celene Highwater will be teaching a special class on Radegast for all those interested in assisting new users understand the client and in helping them become a part of the growing community of blind SL users.
The class will be held at the The Tavern on Wolpertinger, on Thursday May 29th, at 12:00 noon SLT / PDT, and will take place in text, or voice upon request.
Anyone who is interested in learning the ins and outs of Radegast in order to help blind or visually impaired users make effective use of the client, is extended a warm invitation to attend the session.