Is Second Life accessible to users with disabilities?  If your views on accessibility are based on compliance with guidelines (especially WAI’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) and you feel that all digital resources must be universally accessible to everyone, you may feel that an inherently graphical and interactive  environment such as Second Life is unlikely to be accessible.

Use of Second Life by user with disabilitiesIf you share such views I would strongly recommend that you watch the Wheeling in Second Life video clip which is available on YouTube (or, if you cannot access YouTube on the Tips Dr.com or DotSub services).

This video clip shows a user with cerebral palsy, Judith, using Second Life with a headwand. As Judith explains (which you can read on the transcript):

I’ve got a wheelchair in Second Life also. You can choose whether you want to be in a chair or not. You can have crutches, you can have whatever disability you have in real life in Second Life“.

In response to the question “Do you think that this will be a really useful tool for people who are unable to get around, who have problems of mobility in real life?” Judith feels that “Yes, because you can have friends without having to go out and physically find them“.

Should institutions really be developing policies which prevent use of services such as Second Life on grounds of inaccessibility?  And who will explain the reasons for such decisions to users such as Judith?