Virtual Ability is a community of support for people with many kinds of chronic illnesses and disabilities. It resides in the virtual world Second Life. Its function in the virtual world is supported by a nonprofit corporation, Virtual Ability, Inc.
Geographic communities and communities of interest have been widely studied from many perspectives, including social, anthropological, economic, and developmental. Communities within virtual environments are now being examined as those environments become more pervasive, with related research in varied electronic environments dating back over a decade.
In all usages of the term “community,” the affective bonds among members seem to be the most significant defining characteristic (Jones 1997). McMillan and Chavis (1986) outlined a four-dimensional framework describing these bonds. The dimensions include: feelings of membership and belonging; feelings of having and being influenced by the community; feelings of being supported and providing support; and feelings of relationships and emotional connection.
… read the complete story ~ http://issuu.com/onlinetherapyinstitute/docs/tiltiss8?mode=window&pageNumber=58
This article first appeared in the November 2011 issue of TILT Magazine ~ Therapeutic Innovations in Light of Technology.
Click here to read the entire PDF version of the Virtual Ability as Virtual Community article.
Alice Krueger is president of Virtual Ability, Inc., a nonprofit corporation whose mission is to support the participation of persons with disabilities in virtual worlds. She has taught primary through college-level science and special education, conducted educational research for a national laboratory, and has published several academic articles about virtual world participation by persons with disabilities.