Founded by Second Life avatar, Gentle Heron, in 2008, Virtual Ability helps bring people with a wide range of real life disabilities into virtual worlds like Second Life (SL), and provides them with a supporting environment for their in-world experience.
During a specialized intake process, Virtual Ability provides new SL members with RL disabilities customized orientation and training at Virtual Ability Island. New residents learn SL fundamentals in an accessibility-friendly environment and receive help in integrating into SL society. In addition, existing members benefit from an ongoing community of support that includes information, encouragement, training, companionship, referrals to other SL resources and groups, ways to contribute back to the community, and ways to enjoy the virtual environment.
Going forward, Virtual Ability plans to expand its services and programs to become a primary resource for SL users with disabilities, and conduct outreach and awareness activities to inform people with disabilities, their doctors, and their caregivers of the benefits virtual worlds can provide.
In Real Life, Virtual Ability, Inc. is a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation based in Colorado, USA. Its mission is to enable people with a wide range of disabilities by providing a supporting environment for them to enter and thrive in online virtual worlds like Second Life.
In 2009, Virtual Ability was the co-recipient of the first Linden Prize, awarded by Linden Labs, the creator of Second Life, for “an innovative in-world project that improves the way people work, learn and communicate in their daily lives outside of the virtual world.”