Friday, November 14, 2008

Moving Forward

Our meeting last Friday was quite productive. We have "tweaked" our original ideas, and we feel now that we have a much more solid project. I'll do my best to explain it briefly.

Our goal is to create a "template" house that includes 25 or so foundational Universal Design principles. In order to do this, Sarah, our housing expert, will first work on developing a list and creating a set of note cards that outline the W questions. For example, each principle would have information regarding What it is, Who might benefit from it, Where it might be useful, etc.

Second, we will sponsor a contest in Second Life to build the template house. All builders who want to participate would have full creative freedom to create any type of single-residence home as long as it included the 25 principles, which we will provide to them. All entries would be reviewed to ensure that they meet the criteria, and placed on the sim. Then, residents of Second Life would be invited to visit all of the homes and vote for their favorite. This would be a "People's Choice" Award. The winner and runner-up would receive a monetary award for their efforts.

Third, because we now have a "template" house, we will overlay assistive technology into the house, depending upon the needs of particular populations. We plan to begin with outfitting the house with assistive technology that would benefit the caregivers of--and people with--traumatic brain injury.

After this pilot, we could then begin creating a neighborhood of houses that would represent some possible choices for people with other diagnoses or disabilities. For example, there might be a home for caregivers of, and people with, Alzheimer's disease, or for those who have had a stroke.

We would also like to be able to create a livable neighborhood, that would take into consideration needs of the built environment, such as curb cuts, wide sidewalks, large signs, etc.

All of this would be turned into an online course, so that people outside of Second Life could also benefit. After all, we would never be able to build anything like this in RL, as I am sure you can imagine. It is one of the reasons why SL is so well-suited to this project. However, even working in SL will take some funding, so as Sarah is working on this part of the project, I am beginning to look at funding opportunities. I have a 10-page pre-application for an opportunity due January 15. I will do my best to accomplish that in this short time frame.

Your thoughts and ideas are welcome!

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