Twenty-one years ago, the Americans with Disabilities Act became law in the United States. While it is a work in progress, the ADA changed the lives of millions of Americans. The United States of America isn’t the only country to have legal protections in place for citizens with disabilities, however.
Virtual Ability, Inc., is a nonprofit organisation based in Colorado, USA with an in-world community of support for people with a wide range of disabilities. They wanted to affirm that the rights of people with disabilities are recognised in other parts of the world. Previously, they held annual “ADA Day” events to celebrate the anniversary of the ADA’s enactment, but this year there has been more interest, and the event morphed into the two-day conference now known as the International Disability Rights Affirmation Conference, or IDRAC 2011, which takes place this weekend, the 23rd and 24th of July.
We at =IcaruS= have a strong interest in community in Second Life. Each member of our team has a favourite volunteer project or interest. Most recently we participated in Relay for Life of Second Life (SLRFL), a fundraiser for cancer research close to the hearts of Nyx and Leon for four years now; they coaxed iSkye to join in this year. The in-world relay event last weekend left quite an impression of how a virtual event can produce real-world cash benefits to the tune of 373,098 US Dollars.
For iSkye, Virtual Ability has been an important part of her second life since she first rezzed in and met a blue-haired avatar named Mucaro on the orientation island, who introduced her to the community and its founder, Gentle Heron.
Virtual Ability’s programs for virtual world residents with disabilities also generate valuable actual benefits, especially promoting better health and well-being which in turn improves quality of life. The ADA affords Americans with protections and opportunities to achieve greater access, independence and equality in their lives. At IDRAC2011, the legal and social protections for residents with disabilities in other countries will be explored and discussed. There will be exhibits on a broad range of topics, speakers with fascinating information to share, some comedic relief, and a special party with, of course, a dance. One of the exhibits uses two =IcaruS= products, the CyberSlide and the =I= NetConnect. Be sure and visit the conference – it will be quite enlightening, and you’ll see how in-world technology can work to empower people by connecting the virtual and physical worlds.