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Can SL help the disabled?


Mel Cramer
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I volunteer at a charity centre that helps both physically and mentally disabled of all ages.

I was wondering if introducing them to SL would be beneficial to some of them?

(Some would not be able to operate a computer).

Ideas or thoughts would be welcome.

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I guess it could help some disabled people. People who have a difficult time finding social interactions or people who can't leave their house very often might enjoy exploring a virtual world, where they can meet people and do things without being influenced by physical boundaries or limitations, that they would face in the real world.

I've read some stories of people with chronic illnesses or disablities who talked about how being in Second Life has been beneficial for them.

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SL has some fantastic benefits for those that are less able. I've met many folks who have physical struggles in real life, but do well in Second Life. I've seen it do incredible things for peoples' self-worth, and feeling accepted and... just everything.

I'm not in this community myself, so to avoid speaking for anyone I'll only speak from my own experiences - how I've interacted and seen these impressive folks in Second Life.

I volunteer regularly for Relay for Life - an in-world charity 'run' (it's mostly holding down the 'w' key, but shhh) to help raise money and awareness for the American Cancer Society. It raises hundreds of thousands of US Dollars and provides support to hundreds of people. It has a friendly and strong community, including carers and survivors.

A partner of mine also suffered for years with Muscular Dystrophy. With limited motor ability, he found SL was welcoming and gave him room to express himself in his own time. We would watch films together, go and see live concerts, talk and share experiences - and, yes, intimacy. He became an accomplished digital artist and paragraph-roleplayer (even kind of a Don Juan! :P Though he was best known for running an intense roleplay cafe experience) - using a voice-to-text application and only one working hand.

He found that he was able to do things his body would never have allowed him to do and meet people he could never have met otherwise. He was recognised for his natural abilities in art and writing, and he had amazing - sometimes agonising - stories. His experiences and friends in Second Life helped give him the strength to keep going through the toughest times. He found friends who would've gone to the ends of the Earth for him, and he inspired determination in others. He passed away last year, but Second Life changed his life - and he changed mine.

I can't recommend it enough, for those that are open to it.

I'm happy to talk more about this, in public or private - if it'll help more folks find what I found.

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SL has been a lifeline since I had to give up RL work. Both the creation and social aspects are important. My physical limitations matter less here and I've found good friends who recognise and appreciate my strengths.
So I think it's worth trying, especially if centre members are willing to help each other get the hang of SL. The learning curve can be a bit steep, and that first run in with griefing can be a bit difficult, and the open endedness of it all can be confusing, so it's good to have some support and friends.

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As someone with a mental disability of their own, yes.

I have mysophobia and aspergers, for me, SL is a way to to the virtual outdoors and hang out with people. I feel safe in SL and it has really helped my social skills, though I am not sure if they would still be as good in real life.

However I highly suggest informing them of content they may encounter in SL. Although physically disabled may not need to worry too much, since of the mentally disabled may need to prepare themselves for stuff that may trigger epilepsy(such as flashing lights or loud sounds), or content that may make them upset such as blood/gore and explicit content. I am not sure which type of mentally disabled people you are helping, so I am just putting that out there.

As for the “of all ages” part, Linden Lab has a age restriction on SL. Ages 16-17 are allowed on G rated regions, and 18+ may access any rated region. Exception to this is specially purchased estates, which those 13+ may access, but they cannot access any region outside the estate.

 

please discard spelling errors, touch screen keyboard is a pain to use.

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Yes SL helps the disabled.  I've have many friends here that are disabled either physically or with mental disabilities.

The physically disable can do things they can't in RL, and some find that doing some of the things here actually help them to 'practice' motions and they get better at them in RL.  The same sort of technique many top athletes use to 'practice' their movements in their head to get better at them.

Depending on the mental illness, SL can help too.  It can help them develop social skills as well as conversation skills that allow them to communicate better in RL.

Actually you may be surprised to learn how many disabled people are in SL.  Many people I know that are disabled don't tell that they are because they don't want to be treated differently.  It wasn't until we got to be good friends that several of my friends finally told me.

Definitely check out Virtual Ability.  They not only have special orientations for the disabled but they offer a wealth of resources for them.  Your clients can meet and talk to other's with disabilities, some who may have the same ones, that are experienced SL residents.

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Was your friend called mateo secretspy / night vamp / ronan mcguiness / dj ronan? he had same health issue and hasnt been online since last July, maybe it was his alt account, even if not the same person he was almost like your friend, naughty, confident, sharp mind, you couldnt push him around, he had a good looking avatar, hip fashion sense, couldnt believe his health problem when he told me, would never have guessed.

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Just some food for thought:

I once had a talk with a woman who told me how happy she was with the home she and her boyfriend had made in Second Life. We then started talking about avatar appearance and she told me her avatar looked pretty much the same as she did in real life ... before the fire.

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sally Parkes wrote:

Was your friend called...

Hi sally. I'm afraid the names posted don't ring any bells. My partner passed in January, so I'm afraid the timing doesn't match either. Sorry to hear you two fell out of contact. A lack of closure can be a horrible thing to endure.

You're right that they sound pretty similar in outlook - my observation was that living with something so debilitating drives some folks to put as much of themselves out there as possible. It was great for me to see, I hope you can say the same. :)

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