Real Life Access to “Second Life” Worlds: The Potential, the Problems and the Possibilities for a Barrier-Free Future

By D. Wood.

Published by The Diversity Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

While user participation has always been a function of the Web, more recent Web 2.0 developments such as MySpace, YouTube, Facebook and 3D virtual worlds such as Second Life, Active Worlds and There, provide the narrative space through which users collaborate, create and share their experience using a variety of rich media tools. Such new and emerging technologies challenge the out dated debates about whether form ought to precede function as the traditional roles of designers and users are transformed; in the virtual worlds of Web 2.0, it is the users who are the creators. Web 2.0 technologies, therefore, have the potential to link users isolated by disability, geographical location and social circumstances, and can enable individuals to transcend the limitations of real life in virtual space. Despite the promises, those who can benefit the most from these collaborative rich media experiences may be further disadvantaged by the social, physical, sensory and technological barriers to accessibility imposed by such platforms. This paper describes the potential of Web 2.0 as a narrative space for those who are isolated in real life, outlines the current accessibility problems imposed by Web 2.0 technologies and explores possible approaches for addressing the identified barriers to accessibility.

Keywords: Web 2.0, 3D Virtual Worlds, Disability, Accessibility

International Journal of Diversity in Organizations, Communities and Nations, Volume 8, Issue 6, pp.139-148. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.455MB).

Dr. D. Wood

Program Director (Media Arts), School of Communication, University of South Australia, Magill, SA, Australia

Denise is responsible for the Bachelor of Media Arts program in the School of Communication, University of South Australia and she coordinates and is principal lecturer for several multimedia and Web design courses offered within the undergraduate and Honours programs at the University of South Australia. Denise is also Chair of the School of Communication Teaching and Learning Committee and Co-Chair of the Division’s Equity Committee. Denise has extensive experience in the multimedia industry as both a producer and training provider and she has undertaken several research studies addressing the impact of technology in education. Denise’s current research into usability and accessible design practice is of particular relevance to her paper for this conference.


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