second life "flaws"

In the discussion of education in Second Life, a couple of issues are often raised:

  • accessiblity in terms of blind (or low vision) and deaf students
  • accessiblity in terms of bandwidth and other technical requirements
  • learning curve for students and faculty with SL

These are all important concerns. From a commericial standpoint the first may not necessarily be a major issue; however, the other two are general concerns for Linden Labs. The entire SL enterprise will rest to a significant degree upon ease of use.

But when I think about this, I have to wonder what the situation was for the original web in, say, 1994 or early 1995. Were there screenreaders for the visually-impaired then? How accessible was the web for students from their homes? How about the learning curve for navigating the web (in Lynx for example)? Or building web pages?

For that matter what is the general level of accessiblity of the web? of podcasts? of YouTube?

Accessiblity is not my area of expertise. Though as Peter Abarahams notes, when Linden Labs made the SL client open source, it opened the way for others to address these concerns. However, more generally speaking, I think it is short-sighted to say "oh, there are too many obstacles; we can’t get involved." I don’t think educators can afford to take that stance while others forge ahead.

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