Be part of an exciting study!

On October 26, 2015 the President’s Committee for People with Intellectual Disabilities (PCPID) published its 2015 Report to the President titled Leveling the Playing Field: Improving Technology Access and Design for People with Intellectual Disabilities. The report describes the critical and increasing role of technology in enabling individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) to have greater control over their own lives and to experience the full benefits of citizenship. This is perfect timing for adults with intellectual or developmental disability to participate in a unique seven-week study that will learn whether the virtual world platform Second Life can help adults with an intellectual or developmental disability become more self-determined in the physical world.

I am the lead investigator on a study that will investigate whether self-determination in the physical world can be positively influenced by activities in the virtual world Second Life.  The study will include 15 adults (18+) across the nation with intellectual or developmental disability who will complete identified activities (described below) in Second Life.  A triangulation mixed methods research design will include pre- and post-surveys, field observations and semi-structured interviews.  Data will be analyzed to determine support for ongoing research using Second Life to increase self-determination of adults with intellectual or developmental disability.

Participants will be encouraged to complete the study activities as autonomously as possible.  Support needs will not preclude an individual from participating.  Previous experience in Second Life is not needed.  Mentors will be available to participants throughout the study. Individual support needs of participants will be addressed after the selection process.

I am a current PhD student with a focus on disability studies.  My research is being conducted through the University of Idaho where I’ve completed my coursework before and since relocating to Northern Virginia.  I am currently an Independent Living Program Specialist at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Administration for Community Living (ACL).  However, the activities and views expressed by the research related to this project represent the sole views and findings of the researcher and in no way represent the views of the ACL or the United States.

This study has been reviewed and approved by the University of Idaho Institutional Review Board.  This includes review and approval of all instruments used during the study and the participant consent form.  The purpose of the study is to determine whether self-determination in the physical world can be positively influenced by activities in the virtual world Second Life.

Participants will be asked to complete two surveys, one before the study activities begin and one after the study activities have been completed.  These will take approximately 30 to 45 minutes each to complete.  Participants will be asked to complete six activities in each of the following subject areas:  (1) Second Life orientation on Virtual Ability Island, a monitored environment specifically for people with disabilities, (2) Health and Wellness, (3) a social event, (4) a Second Life field trip, (5) disability awareness and (6) Participant Choice.  Activities will relate to the self-determination areas of problem solving, relationships with others and self-awareness.  Each activity will take approximately 90-120 minutes.  And lastly, participants will be asked to participate in an interview after all activities and final surveys have been completed.

Appropriate steps will be taken to ensure the participant’s identity and all identifiable information will be confidential during and after the study.  A participant can end their role in the study at any time without penalty.

Please help adults with intellectual or developmental disability participate in this study by sharing the attached invitation.  Participant application will close December 21, 2015.  Participants will be notified of their selection to participate in the study no later than December 23, 2015.  The study will conclude no later than February 21, 2016.

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Date posted: December 11, 2015. Content created by The Autism NOW Center. Last updated: December 11, 2015.

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