This page was started to collect and share accessibility resources which make Second Life easier to use. If you spot something missing, please do add your knowledge so we can all benefit from connecting the pieces together.
Over time, Linden Lab has added accessibility features to Second Life. Allowing menus to be keyboard-driven, adding keyboard shortcuts, and the Dazzle UI revamp have been valuable changes on their own, but combined, have made substantial improvements to the inworld experience. There's still a lot that needs to be done.
As of 2008-06-25, Linden Lab doesn't have a point person dedicated to accessibility & disability (who would likely work with our Resident Experience Team on usability matters), but as we've continued to hire key personnel for needed specialties and should this change, you'll find the role listed on the Employment Position Listings page.
In addition, we're reviewing better accessibility for our Support Portal. Our internal project code is DEV-1458.
Second Life's viewer is open source, which means Residents are able to improve upon it and add user interface functionality, such as different input devices which make it easier to get around. An actual example of this was the patch for the SpaceNavigator 3D mouse, which was actually integrated into Linden Lab's main viewer.
Are there any open source viewers focused on accessibility? Put them here.
TextSL is an open source interface allowing visually impaired to access Second life using a screen reader.
Public Issue Tracker issues focused on improving Accessibility
The Public Issue Tracker) website (also known as Jira, Public Jira, or PJira), is a system that helps Linden Lab identify new features that the community of Second Life Residents feels are important. When you log on to PJira, you can vote for a specific feature request if you feel it is very important to have it added to Second Life. The more votes a particular feature request gets, the more Linden Lab will prioritize the request. Here are details on how voting works in PJira.
This section of the Accessibility wiki is for keeping track of specific feature requests in PJira that are focused on improving accessibility. Please feel free to add links to them so that folks can learn more and have the opportunity to cast their votes.
- SVC-4515) Is a pJira proposing a new prim property be added for "annotation" on prims and objects. This would be made available to viewers centered on accessibility, and would be accompanied by a new function like llSetObjectName/Desc: llSetObjectAnnotation.
- SNOW-178) Is a pJira proposing a keyboard shortcut or text interface command for Add Friends.
- SNOW-179) Is a pJira proposing a keyboard shortcut or text interface command to Accept Friends request.
- SNOW-180) Is a pJira proposing mapping keyboard command and/or shortcut to open context menus.
Residents seeking to do the same for their events can learn how to record voice chat. Then, if you don't have time to transcribe yourself, you can use the Amazon Mechanical Turk to get an affordable transcription. If you find it confusing to set up tasks, there's also CastingWords, which also uses MTurk as an intermediary.
Text size too small?
You can enlarge this in a few ways:
- Edit menu > Preferences > General tab and increase UI Size.
- Also in the General tab, uncheck "Small Avatar Names" (to the right of "Show Names").
- In Preferences > Text Chat tab, set Chat Font Size to Large.
You can also watch a video tutorial.
You may prefer to use voice chat if you find it difficult to continually read text chat. See these articles in our Knowledge Base:
We also have VOICE CHAT video tutorials for your benefit.
This is an inspiring video featuring a man using brainwaves to control Second Life:
You can also see a similar video with Japanese text.
Alternative input options
Depending on your specific needs, a standard keyboard + mouse may not be the best. If possible, try before you buy, or acquire it from a place with a hassle-free return policy. In addition to the numerous ergonomic keyboards out there, You may consider:
- 3Dconnexion alternative mice - Including the SpaceNavigator which has become popular with Second Life. By using a limited range of motion, you can use the 6 axes to move your avatar, camera, and more.
- Frogpad - A unique form of ergonomic keyboard useful for those who've lost mobility in one hand.
- Wacom tablet - Uses a stylus as a mouse alternative and can be helpful for relieving wrist cramps/carpal tunnel problems. Wacom is among the more expensive graphics tablets, but also durable in quality.
- MouseKeys - "Control the Mouse Pointer Using the Numeric Keypad"
- Dragon Naturally Speaking - Talk-to-write program. Typing words and sentences can be done in Second Life by talking in a microphone. A reasonably fast computer is recommended for doing this since, because like Second Life, Dragon is resources-heavy. If your performance is slow, try lowering your Second Life graphics settings to the minimum to cope with a slower computer. In several countries you can get compensation for buying the program/computer if you are disabled.
- Second Life Educators Discussion list search - Try searching the archives for keywords like "accessibility".
- Health & Medicine in Second Life - Learn more about HealthInfo island and visit their inworld Accessibility Center.
- Second Life Accessibility - "All about accessibility and disability in Second Life virtual worlds."
- Second Life Accessibility (a different blog with the same name) - Hasn't been updated since Nov. 2007, but has a selection of useful links on the right-hand side.
- Second Life for the Visually Impaired - Gareth White is "Analysing the accessibility of Second Life with respect to visual impairment."
- VirtualAbility - Second Life help for disabled people - A community dedicated to helping disabled people in secondlife."
- Handsfree 3D - "Controlling Virtual Worlds Without a Mouse or Keyboard"
- Advocacy Working Group - "Should a working group be formed to address accessibility in Second Life?"
- TextSL - The University of Nevada in Reno developed a client for Second Life which allows visually impaired /blind users to access Second Life using a screen Reader.
- Helen Keller Day in Second Life
- Pathfinder Linden's List of Second Life Accessibility Websites
- BlindDeafAwareness Wiki - Started 6/20/09 in anticipation of the Helen Keller day in Second Life on 6/27/09
- Virtual Helping Hands - A non-profit corporation dedicated to: making the immersive Internet (virtual worlds) accessible to disabled individuals, providing assistance to those that are disabled, providing resources to those that are disabled, developing and makeing available new or enhanced existing technology to the disabled which enhances their opportunity for social engagement. See also: www.virtualguidedog.org
Blog posts & media mentions
In reverse-chronological order.
- 2009-6-23 - See with your ears - See things with your ears instead of your eyes!
- 2009-06-17 - Beautiful Visions beyond Sight: Guide Dogs and Helen Keller Day in Second Life - Pathfinder Linden's blog post.
- 2008-06-30 - Paralysed man takes a walk in virtual world - Brainwaves used to control Second Life.
- 2008-03-15 - "Exploring Methods of Accessing Virtual Worlds - Techniques for enabling blind users in virtual worlds.
- 2007-12-07 - wheeling in Second Life - Video of "A person with cerebral palsy using second life with a headwand."
- 2007-07-28 - Empowering the physically challenged - Blog post from Second Edition. SL Resident Simon Walsh operates his in-world nightclub Wheelies.
- 2007-01-11 - Second Life open source accessible client - Blog post from Abrahams Accessibility. Has ideas for open source devs to make SL more accessible.
- 2004-12-15 - The Nine Souls of Wilde Cunningham - Blog post from New World Notes. One of the classic stories of Second Life enabling self-expression for the disabled.