A new island themed around disability and inclusion has been ‘discovered’ in Second Life, by the man whose online character or ‘avatar’ was the first to use a wheelchair in the virtual world.
Llamdos (try reading the name backwards) was created by Simon Stevens, a consultant who in 2006 created Wheelies, the first virtual night-club in Second Life aimed at both disabled and non-disabled users.
The island, which Stevens estimates has already received more than 10,000 visitors from around 30 countries, is now home to Wheelies plus a range of virtual shops and services such as the Understand training centre and Viewpoint conference centre, where Stevens organises and hosts workshops and seminars on a wide range of issues in the fields of disability and social care.
Stevens told E-Access Bulletin that although Llamdos has the themes of disability and inclusion, the island is not solely “for disabled people, and is intended to be a place for both disabled and non-disabled Second Life users”. Although Llamdos is “probably not as technically accessible as it can be”, he said “many organisations have become too obsessed with the rules of [accessibility] and they have forgotten the spirit of the intentions. My aim is for the island to feel inclusive and welcoming.”
A number of communities in Second Life now explore themes of disability, such as Ability Island, a training and discussion area owned by US organisation Virtual Ability. Virtual Ability also own Cape Able Island, designed primarily for deaf and hard of hearing Second Life users.