[games_access] Fwd: interesting discussion about making SecondLife accessible to the blind

d. michelle hinn hinn at uiuc.edu
Thu Jan 11 21:38:11 EST 2007


That's great, Thomas. I wish that someone from Linden had also
contacted us to get involved so I'll take your email as an invitation
even though you are not with Linden.

Part of the reason for this list is that it is a forum for free
discussion about issues pertaining to accessibility and to note when
discrepancies exist -- such as whether SL is a "game" (and therefore
immediately involves us) or a larger project that, in large part,
falls outside the scope of our SIG. With regard to active members, we
are small and we have to choose our battles. Please do not take
offense at this -- I mean no offense at all. But with so much
territory to cover in the gaming world, it is difficult to justify
having the entire SIG be completely involved in a SL project that is
not purely a game world when we are already spread so thin with so
many commitments that broadly span the industry. SL is closer to our
mission than the web accessibility issues -- there are so many much
more experienced groups already doing this. But only the gaming
portion of it is related to our mission -- so that which in SL is not
a game goes beyond our SIG scope.

Simulated worlds are not automatically games and SL, a simulated
world, has said that they are not a game but, rather, provide
facilitation for people who choose to create games. But they also
provide facilitation for people who choose to create businesses and
anything else people can imagine in that world.

The issue at hand is that there is a lawsuit on the table now and
it's not from us. So those of us discussing it were discussing the
lawsuit based on our experiences with SL personally and
professionally. I see no reason why discussion here should ever be
censured -- with the exception of someone just coming in to heckle
us. The more disturbing thing in my mind is not Linden Lab's response
but the responses that the reporter of the original article received.
One comment involved, essentially, saying that the blind need to find
a real life and stop worrying about "second life." I take offense
when I see man's inhumanity to man. It's not the first (or, I'm
afraid, the last) time we've seen this -- Reid Kimball has many, many
examples of fantastic (as in "hard to believe" not as in "great")
responses to the hearing impaired community's activism for closed
captioning in games. It disturbs me but many things in this world do.

I was recently on NPR as part of a piece on Games for the Blind and
have seen reaction to that, such as "disability is just a construct
and games are not inaccessible." If we were to take this
academically, sure, ok, disability *could* be a construct if we used
disturbing terms like "normal" (whatever the h*ll that means). But to
suggest that games are accessible to all? No way. Nor is second life.
Yes, there are people who can play some games using more
extraordinary measures than a gamer without a disability that
prevents them from playing a game "out of the box." There are others
who don't need particularly fancy set ups to play some games. There
are others who cannot play at all -- either because the prices of
assistive technologies to play such games is prohibitive or they've
assumed (as the designer has) that games are not for them.

So this points, again, to our larger purpose of increasing awareness
for many, many issues. By all means, I encourage anyone who wishes to
form/join in a committee to help create an accessible SL client to
have full backing from the SIG as best as we can do. But SL is not
the only issue out there -- it's just the first that a lawsuit has
been pressed against and, as Richard pointed out, it's not "a game."
So while as a SIG on a whole we cannot drop the myriad of high
profile activism that we are doing as advocates within the industry
to bring about awareness about disability issues, I see no reason why
you, Thomas, cannot use this forum as a way to recruit interested
members in the committee you suggest.

So after my long winded reply...yes, a committee would be great and I
support that. I encourage you spearhead this committee and use this
list as a way to organize and announce meetings. I will help
facilitate that as much as possible. At the same time, many of us
will not be able to participate due to other time commitments and
personal and professional research interests -- but some will be able
to so and it's worth asking people to join in your effort.

Michelle
IGDA Game Accessibility SIG Chair


>Fact one: SL has a disability group that come together to discuss the issues.

>

>Fact two: The lab have contracted someone to be there disability

>coordinator and I am trying to work with him.

>

>Fact Three: The University of Texas at Dallas have purchase an

>island for me to work on the Accessibility issues of this type of

>environment. I am still waiting on the island to be deliver by the

>lab.

>

>This group needs to come together and help me to make sl better for

>all of us and stop pointing out what could happen.

>

>I know many people with disabilities in sl and some do have trouble

>and some do just fine, but now since the lab have made sl open

>source application then we can make a accessible client for all.

>

>I suggest that we form a committee to look at this problem in detail?

>

>

>----------------------------------------------------------------

>Thank You,

>Tom Roome

>ATEC Teacher Assistant

>The University of Texas at Dallas

>E-mail: thomas.roome at student.utdallas.edu

>

>

>

>________________________________

>

>From: games_access-bounces at igda.org on behalf of d. michelle hinn

>Sent: Thu 1/11/2007 5:39 PM

>To: IGDA Games Accessibility SIG Mailing List

>Subject: Re: [games_access] Fwd: interesting discussion about making

>SecondLife accessible to the blind

>

>

>

>Yes, this is true -- and actually since it's a "place of business"

>for some that even Reuters international news service is following it

>puts them into even more danger according to several US laws. SL is

>not a game but an online world that allows users to create games...or

>businesses...or classes...

>

>And since users *can* (and I'm not saying will) make real money off

>of their ventures...it places it into interesting legal territory.

>Although...with SL really pushing their product at gaming

>conferences, it makes them into a (sorry for the geekiness of

>this...) a shape-shifter of sorts, allowing them to align themselves

>as whatever form (business and concept-wise) is valuable to them at

>whatever point in time.

>

>The game versus simulation should tie up the courts a bit -- and SL

>needs to clarify whatever position they intend to defend themselves

>with. Whatever angle they go with...that will be on the legal books

>for some time in the US (unless/until overturned).

>

>Michelle

>

>>Thanks for this! I've already posted my 2eurocents. Maybe we do need to keep

>>in mind that many consider Second Life to be "a simulation instead of a

>>game" (to quote Margaret Robertson of Edge Magazine). While this may seem

>>like a futile detail at the moment (games vs. simulation discussion), it can

>>make all the difference in the world - legally.

>>

>>Greets,

>>

>>Richard

>>

>>

>>----- Original Message -----

>>From: "d. michelle hinn" <hinn at uiuc.edu>

>>To: <games_access at igda.org>

>>Sent: Thursday, January 11, 2007 1:09 AM

>>Subject: [games_access] Fwd: interesting discussion about making SecondLife

>>accessible to the blind

>>

>>

>>> Forwarding this for Eelke...interesting timing, as I'm about to guest

>>> blog about accessibility of MMOGs on Terra Nova.

>>>

>>> Hey the American Blind Federation sued AOL...this was bound to happen

>>> to online games eventually, especially since they are being used in

>>> classrooms.

>>>

>>> Michelle

>>>

>>>>ate: Wed, 10 Jan 2007 14:28:11 -0800

>>>>From: "Eelke Folmer" <eelke.folmer at gmail.com>

>>>>To: "d. michelle hinn" <hinn at uiuc.edu>,

>>>> "Richard Tol van" <r.van.tol at bartimeus.nl>

>>>>Subject: Fwd: interesting discussion about making SecondLife

>>>>accessible to the blind

>>>>

>>>>Hey I sent this one yesterday to the games access list but it wasn't

>>>>featured in today's

>>>>mail.

>>>>

>>>>cheers Eelke

> >>>

>>>>

>>>>---------- Forwarded message ----------

>>>>From: Eelke Folmer <eelke.folmer at gmail.com>

>>>>Date: Jan 9, 2007 3:46 PM

>>>>Subject: interesting discussion about making SecondLife accessible

>>>>to the blind

>>>>To: games_access at igda.org

>>>>

>>>>

>>>>http://www.it-analysis.com/blogs/Abrahams_Accessibility/2006/11/second_life_class_action.html?mode=full&hilite=13287#CM13287

>>>>

>>>>People seem to have some radical opinions about the subject matter

>>>>(especially with regard to the class action suit):

>>>>

>>>>"Don't get me wrong; I'm all for supporting the rights of the

>>>>disabled, but this is beyond insane. What's next? Should they sue the

>>>>Anderson Window Company for not making windows that verbally describe

>>>>what's going on outside. I mean, really, those windows only work for

>>>>people who can see, right? That's discrimination, right"

>>>>

>>>>Interesting is the response from Joshua Linden (founder linden labs)

>>>>about how Lindenlabs is trying to do their best to follow the W3C

>>>>guidelines but rather decided to make the Second life viewer open

>>>>source so people can write their own viewers which support alternative

>>>>input and output mechanisms such as screen readers. However I believe

>>>>this will only work if accessibility features are supported on the

>>>>server side. E.g. how do you classify & describe an object in

>>>>Secondlife? (e.g. its the same problem with adding meta information to

>>>>images on the word wide web see http://www.espgame.org/)

>>>>

>>>>~ Eelke

>>>>

>>>>

>>>>

>>>>--

>>>>----------------------------------------------------------------------------

>>>>Eelke Folmer Assistant Professor

>> >>Department of Computer Science & Engineering/171

>>>>University of Nevada Reno, Nevada 89557

>>>>Game Quality usability|accessibility.eelke.com

>>>>----------------------------------------------------------------------------

>>>>

>>>>

>>>>--

>>>>----------------------------------------------------------------------------

>>>>Eelke Folmer Assistant Professor

>>>>Department of Computer Science & Engineering/171

>>>>University of Nevada Reno, Nevada 89557

>>>>Game Quality usability|accessibility.eelke.com

>>>>----------------------------------------------------------------------------

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