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Opportunities for People with Disabilities in the Virtual World of Second Life


  • Stephanie Stewart PhD RN,

    ProfessorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Stephanie Stewart, PhD RN, is a professor of nursing and director of nursing innovation at the College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh, in Oshkosh, WI.

  • Terri S. Hansen MSN RN,

    Owner of Golden Fire Computer ProductionsSearch for more papers by this author
    • Timothy A. Carey, BA, is the owner of Golden Fire Computer Productions in Appleton, WI.

  • Timothy A. Carey BA

    Academic Staff Member, Corresponding authorSearch for more papers by this author
    • Terri S. Hansen, MSN RN, is an academic staff member at the College of Nursing, University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh, in Oshkosh, WI.


The virtual world of Second Life® (SL) offers people with disabilities a chance to explore new worlds without being limited by their disabilities. Many people with disabilities use SL for information, support, and entertainment. SL is a computer-based simulated environment in which participants are represented by a human-like avatar. The avatar can move through the environment, manipulate objects, and participate in day-to-day activities that most people take for granted, such as walking, dancing, and communicating. In this article, the authors focus on the benefits that information, socialization, and community membership can offer people with disabilities and some of the resources that are available for them in SL. SL communities, groups, and activities also help increase self-worth and empower people with disabilities. Participating in a virtual world enriches the overall quality of life of people with disabilities and may enhance their physical, emotional, and social adjustment.