International Association of CyberPsychology, Training, and Rehabilitation

Virtual Worlds, Disability, and New Cultures of the Embodied Self

People with disabilities have been @ the forefront of technology innovation.

What can their creative uses of and adaptions to online social interaction teach us?

Focusing on the experiences of people w/disabilities in “virtual worlds,” three-dimensional, immersive-VRE (virtual reality experience) online spaces -- where people w/disabilities can appear any way they choose and do things they may not be able to do in the physical world -- can be highly informative.

Take Jadyn's account for example. Jadyn spoke about the Yosemite sim. She explained about her former career as a university professor before she became disabled in 2001, she had been working on a book about Yosemite National Park.

Jadyn's research specialty was national parks and protected areas.

When she was unable to work, in a sense, she also "lost Yosemite".

"And it was a great loss to me. Yosemite is my favorite place in the whole wide world. I've been there so many times, I've lost count."

She has just recently created a virtual Yosemite National Park in Second Life, and it opened in July 2016 and is in the Nature & Parks section, along with her Shinzen Japanese Garden, also located at the Yosemite sim.

"I see it as, I lost Yosemite in 2001 when when I became disabled. But now, 15 years later, I have it back again!" said Jadyn.

Jadyn also mentioned the Ethnographia Project, which expresses her story of experience with disability and Second Life. "It's not quite complete yet though, a work in progress," said Jadyn.


Enthusiatically she went on to describe Yosemite Valley (Forever Wild) as "one full sim in size and there's horseback riding available here for free" and added, "it's a nice place to relax and enjoy the scenery, and meditate or visit with friend."

Additionally, within a (virtual) world sans Parkinson’s, Fran Swenson (Fran Serenade in Second Life) is featured in work touching on the fact it's part of a NSF funded study regarding:  how on-line environments affect social interaction and self-understanding as well as physical-world experiences of disability.

More examples here:

This documentary has been submitted for competition in Viktor Main @ 2018 München DOK- Forum (Documentary Film Festival)


Moreover, content can be developed around detailed visits to location like this one ( http://jauntingjen.com/how-to-spend-the-day-conquering-coronado-cave/ ) that can provide both safe exposure to fearful or anxiety inducing environments and afford people with disabilities the chance to visit a place they might not otherwise be able to.  See full Atlantic Mag piece here:

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