Universal Life: Multi-User Virtual Environments for People With DisabilitiesBy Smith, Kel; UX - User Experience, Vol. 9, No. 2, pp. 14-15
Publication Date: 2nd Quarter 2010
Article discusses online virtual worlds for people with disabilities. The distinction between virtual worlds and online computer games stated is that while game players confront obstacles built into the software, users of virtual worlds seek to achieve self directed goals through engagement and collaboration. Tools enabling users with disabilities to access virtual environments such as Second Life described include (1) haptic interfaces such as the Novint Falcon, which gives players the ability to “hold” objects with enough realism to simulate weight and texture; (2) SiSi (Say It Sign It), an IBM platform which translates spoken or written words into British Sign Language; (3) TextSL, which provides the ability to interact with Second Life using the JAWS screen reader; (4) Virtual Worlds User Interface for the Blind, which interprets data contributed by sighted users to be read back as text; and (5) Virtual Helping Hands (VHH) Max, a virtual guide dog which helps visually impaired users translate information via text to speech technology. Second Life users interact via an avatar, which can be created with the user’s real life appearance, such as being seated in a wheelchair. Examples of communities in virtual worlds given include the National Library of Medicine funded Virtual Ability Island, a place within Second Life providing a place to explore disability related topics; the Autism Society of America Island, also in Second Life; Wheelies, a virtual nightclub featuring sign language displays and wheelchair friendly dances; and Gimp Girl’s Second Life environment of events for women with disabilities.
Assistive Products Discussed: JAWS FOR WINDOWS
Published by: Usability Professionals' Association (Website:http://www.usabilityprofessionals.org)