This week, Gentle Heron, who is the founder and chairman of the board of Virtual Ability Inc. gave a speech to our students. We first gathered at Virtual Ability Island. Here, our students sat in the designated seats according to their team colors. Gentle stated that she will initially make her presentation both vocally and in writing. She said that in this way, the presentation can reach people who are hearing and visually impaired. Then Gentle started her presentation by introducing herself. Gentle said she was an educator and researcher before retiring for medical reasons. She later stated that she is the founder of Virtual Ability in SL. Gentle said that she had to stay at home due to health problems and that she discovered SL during this period. She said that she was a very social person in her previous life and that she was able to socialize again with SL.
Gentle then gave information about the Virtual Ability Community (VAI). VAI is a community with more than 1,000 members and was established to support people with disabilities. VAI is an international community with participants from 6 continents. VAI provides support for people with disabilities such as educational support, access to virtual world platforms such as SL and Kitely, and participation in events in these virtual worlds. In addition, the members of the community are not completely disabled, and those whose relatives are disabled are also included in this community. VAI won the first Linden award in 2009 for a project that had a 'tangible impact on the Real World'. VAI is also supported by a non-profit organization in the USA. In addition, VAI is the first organization in the virtual world to be supported by a real-life non-profit organization.
After giving information about the organization, Gentle asked the students to go to different areas according to their groups and make observations in those areas. She said that when we got together again, she would ask them some questions. The questions were as follows;
- What facilities did you see where you visited?
- How were they accessible?
- What is the facility's purpose in supporting the community?
Students went to different areas according to their team colors and made observations in those areas. We then returned to the presentation area, where questions and answers were received.
After this section, Slatan Dryke introduced himself and started speaking. Stalan Dryke said:
''Hello everybody, my name is Slatan Dryke, I am Italian, I am a Veteran and I suffer a form of PTSD and I consider Second Life the best therapy I ever had in years. I am a Second Life old-timer, mentor, linguist, artist and photographer (Real Life / Second Life), endlessly curious and eager to share what I learn.’’
After Slatan, Soldier introduced himself. Soldier has PTSD and a traumatic brain injury. Soldier has been in SL for 13 years. He is retired from the US military. Soldier said he's pretty sociable with the SL. After a short discussion in the field, the session ended.