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Stuff4Sam

For a two and a half years myself and some friends have been fundraising for a 3 year old friend called Sam who was severely disabled after a car crash. So far, with the £21,o000 raised, we’ve been able to buy him a specially adapted wheelchair so he can get out and about, an FES exercise bike to help him develop his muscles and immunity, and arm extensions so he can take part in the art classes he loves at playgroup.

My journey into Second Life has been inspired by Sam. While I was initially looking to fundraise and raise awareness , I then started to explore it’s technical accessibility and how it works with access technologies. During my travels I’ve met and gathered stories from residents in Second Life,  people otherwise restricted in real life, who have found a whole new channel for expressing themselves. What has impressed me is the level of independence people have felt that goes beyond what an adapted wheelchair or arm extensions can do; if you’re able to access virtual worlds you can independently meet and make friends, go to concerts, nightclubs, classes and generally hang out. What has been most revealing of all however is how those of us who are able bodied can find it more comfortable to meet, communicate and talk frankly to people who are disabled through the protective layer of virtual reality. A level playing field in more ways than one.

I’ve started a Stuff4Sam group in Second Life to help raise awareness and hopefully raise funds for Sam. We’re also looking at how we can make Second Life more accessible to people with disabilities. It’s an open group and I would love for you to come and join us, spread the world and look into technical solutions for making Second Life accessible. Just search for “stuff4sam” in the Groups section of the Search and we’ll pop up – the more the better!

Sam with his new arm extensions

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I’ve been hanging out in the virtual world Second Life a lot recently wrapping my head around all the amazing things you can do there. Something that’s really struck me however is how this could be a real opportunity for people who are restricted in some way in their day to day lives.

Working as a Web Accessibility Consultant this is hardly surprising but what really got me excited was thinking of the opportunities that it could give a friend of mine, Sam, who was paralysed in a car accident a couple of years ago. Imagine if he could hang out in Second Life, meet people, go to concerts, take courses, fly, earn his own money, even play football with his Dad.

Judy Brewer from the Web Accessibility Initiative gives a talk in Second Life

It’s also got me thinking about how I can expand my fundraising activities for Sam by setting up a group in there where I can raise awareness as well has money to help buy him equipment to make his quality of life better (the group will be stuff4sam, but I haven’t made enough Linden Dollars to set it up yet…watch this space)!

I am currently researching how Second Life fairs in terms of accessibility from the perspective of all users including people with mobility, visual, hearing and cognitive impairments but I need your help. Rather than just put on my auditors hat I’d like to also hear what your experiences are with Second Life including the good as well as the bad, what do you find troublesome, what features do you like most and if you use an access technology or change your browser settings

If you’d like to share you thoughts with me then leave a comment here or drop me an email at accesssecondlife@gmail.com.

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stuff4sam

stuff4sam

Having reached the 9k mark and kitted Sam out with a special buggy we’re now aiming to hit the magic total of 20k to buy him a special exercise bike. This will help him stimulate his muscles as well as keep him busy and happy.

The mutley’s are now taking a well earned summer break so to do this we’ve launched a shiney new blog stuff4sam where we’ll keep you updated with news about Sam, sponsored events as well as a little something for you too as we unveil plans for parties, sweepstakes, get togethers and competitions.

Want to leave a message for Sam? We have a page for “His Sam!” photos and messages sent in from all round the world. We’d love to see you up there so come and take a look, leaves messages, send photos, or if you have fundraising ideas we’d love you to get involved so email us at stuff4sam@gmail.com

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Fantastic news, Sam is going home today! He’s been spending a bit more time at home over the last few weeks but finally he’s had the go ahead to make the move just in time for Easter. This means that the cash you have all donated is really being put to good use making his environment a bit more comfortable and it easier for his parents to care for him. Thank you.
The Just Giving page for donations is still open for anyone that hasn’t and still wants to donate…there’s still so much he needs such as additional breathing equipment, voice activated toys and nudge switches for his head so he can control his specially adapted wheelchair.

Thank you

p.s. video’s of the trip are still coming…

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Henny and her mutley crewThe magic number of 8k has been hit, tipped over the balance by 80 quid from the office swear box! So it’s goodbye to swearing on tick, 4 for a pound and a string of expletives for your lunch money. What a relief (it’s not all good though as the swear box has been a very understanding source of loans in the run up to pay day for swift half’s, yoga classes and chocolate fixes).

So that’s it for the fundraising (unless anyone wants so sponsor me lying on a beach or something….), thank you all very much.

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Hi Sam! Setting off at 9 am in the snowSome stories about the trip, photo’s and a slideshow, with audio and video coming soon.

Thanks again for all the donations, having aimed for 3k a massive 7.5k has been raised and a customised wheelchair already bought for Sam, so thank you.

That’s it, no more hasseling you for money, promise…

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time to defrost

Sunset at around 3pm.

Back in one piece after covering well over 250k in what can be described as the most extreme and cold environment I’ve ever been in. Having arrived in – 8, temperatures dropped to – 35. Mad cold but that’s what Iwent there for, to see what it’s really like.
Only fell off the sled once although I did do bit of body surfing hanging off the back when the brakes slipped…

I’m amazed by the amount of sponsorship you’ve all raised and can’t thank you enough, just under £7500 is incredible. Thank you.
I’ll be updating the dog sledding page with stories about the trip and uploading photo’s when fully defrosted, which I plan to do down the pub this afternoon.

Thank you mod, dms and pixeldiva for the blogging!

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