Wheeling in Second Life

Judith, who has cerebral palsy, has been using computers and the web for many years. Recently she was telling me about how much she was enjoying Second Life and so I asked her if she would mind showing me it. In the video, Judith talks about using Second Life and a club called “Wheelies”, which is one of her favourite locations.

Wheeling in Second Life

Duration: 4:27
December 2007, Sydney.

Wheeling in Second Life video transcript

Judith: I work during the day, so when I come home I’ve only got like a couple of hours. So by the time I do my own emails and correspondence that come in during the day I might have forty-five minutes or an hour to do whatever, so

Roger: And what’s your current really big thing on the Web that you’re into?

Judith: Second Life. 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.

Roger: Do you always stay in your wheelchair in second life?

Judith: No, no, no.

Roger: Are there many other people in wheelchairs in Second Life?

Judith: Simon Walsh.

Roger: From the UK?

Judith: Yes. And he always stays in his wheelchair. But, just like in real life, I find the attitude of people in Second Life to people with disabilities (is disappointing). I have run an experiment myself. I’ve gone to this particular website as an able bodied person, got out on the dance floor and danced for half an hour with different avatars or different people, or whatever you call them. Then I’ve gone away, put myself in my wheelchair, gone back, the same people were there and they didn’t want to know me.

Roger: Are there special places in Second Life where people in wheelchairs hang out.

Judith: Yes, “Wheelies”.

Roger: And what’s Wheelies.

Judith: That’s a nightclub specially built people, by a man who has cerebral palsy, in the UK.

Roger: Can you take us to it?

Judith: Yes.

Caption: Wheelies was started by Simon

Judith: Unfortunately like real life you’ve got to go around things because you can’t go through them. You can fly over them. Oh, there’s Simon!

Roger: He’s in there is he?

Judith: Yes. He was there before, in there [typing question with headwand]

Caption: How many people visit “Wheelies”?

[On-screen dialog: (asking how many people visit Wheelies each week) Simon: “Wheelie or norm?” “Few 100 I guess”.]

Judith: There you are; one hundred people a week. When I first started we got a couple of hundred.

Caption: Going up to the dance floor.

Judith: That’s Simon up there, the avatar… [looking to other screen] that’s him in real life.

Roger: And he was on Big Brother?

Judith: Yes, in the UK. [turning towards dance floor] And that’s the DJ, that girl in the green, she’s the DJ, and he pays her to be the DJ there.

Roger: Oh, right…

Judith: And she talks to you over the thing there saying hello Wheelies … see she’s talking to you.

Roger: 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: Yes, because you can have friends without having to go out and physically find them.

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