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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Introducing Virtual Ability -NemzKat Resident Reporting...

Path of Support

Virtual Ability has been building communities of support for people with disabilities in virtual worlds since 2007.

Studies are showing that bringing people with mental disabilities into virtual worlds is good for and benefits them. And many of you are probably thinking, what does this have to do with anything? Well, that’s what Virtual Ability is about. It helps people with mental disabilities to come into the worlds, and be successful with them. But SL is not the only world they do this is, but is what we will be talking about.

Virtual Abilities is present in both real life, and Second Life.

In RL, Virtual Ability, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation based in Colorado, USA.  They are the leading provider of services and information for people with disabilities in virtual worlds, and conduct outreach and awareness activities to inform people with disabilities or chronic health conditions, their family and friends, medical professionals, and other caregivers of the benefits virtual worlds can provide. So they are a charitable corporation, under US tax laws. One hundred percent of donations made to Virtual Ability (either inworld or via the website), are used to directly support the services and activities of Virtual Ability, Inc.

 In SL, it is a peer support community for people with all kinds of disabilities- physical, mental, emotional, and sensory. Virtual Ability helps enable people with a wide range of disabilities by providing a supporting environment for them to enter and thrive in online virtual worlds.  During our specialized intake process, we provide SL residents with customized orientation and training at award-winning Virtual Ability Island. There, new residents can learn SL fundamentals in an accessibility-friendly environment, and existing residents can receive ongoing training and information about health-related issues and support groups. 

So, as a curious person, I asked how all of this started. And it’s pretty cool actually. Some friends, who had met online, all disabled in RL, were feeling increasingly isolated in their RL lives, so they decided to explore virtual worlds to see if that could ease the isolation. From there, VA started to have weekly events- some are for entertainment and others are for educational purposes. Also, there is a Monday- book club meeting. All their events work around the worlds time zones.
Support Groups

Who is in this program?

About three quarters of the group members have one or more kinds of disability (physical, mental, emotional, or sensory) or chronic illness; the rest are temporarily-able-bodied family members, caregivers, professionals, researchers, students, and others interested in disability issues.

Ways to help!

 Of course, they accept donations to further their work here. They also look for contract work. They can train PWD to do and then employ them for RL wages.

 Inworld, they have lots of volunteer opportunities, depending on the person's skills.

Volunteer librarians for instance help answer questions posed at our Consumer Health Library on their Healthinfo Island.  People with specific knowledge, conduct classes or offer presentations. They need drudgery tasks done too, like ensuring links on their website links aren't broken, or using SL Search to find additional peer support groups to put on the Path of Support. And they do accept Linden dollar donations inworld as well. They are an entirely volunteer organization. There is no paid staff, RL or SL. So all donations go to benefiting PWDs in virtual worlds.

Deaf Chat Coffee

It's an active, supportive, positive, thriving, growing community.

Want to join them?

  People join their community by chatting with an officer. I'm one. It's not open enrollment. They currently have over 650 members in the Virtual Ability community.

If you would like to know more about them, please see their website at:


 IM a member of the Virtual Ability team: Gentle Heron, Eme Capalini, Treasure Ballinger, or Pecos Kidd.

Important Notice:

“Virtual Ability is a Peer Support Community; we are not medical professionals. We are peers - we are not your doctor. All discussions are Peer Support, and are for educational and informational purposes only. Information obtained in *any* online or virtual world environment is not a substitute in any way for actual medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified heath provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have learned from any online or virtual world support group.”



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