New Eyes

FRONT PAGE NEWS

Hi everyone!

Given that we have frequently been discussing the subject of disability in education – both in fiction and the real world – on our Facebook 'dev blog' recently, it seemed natural to tie up all those individual threads into a special focus on the subject in the newsletter this week.

It is not a topic that is new to Sambiglyon, as we have carried out a large amount of R&D during the past few years on how to enhance the personal and educational life of disabled people as part of content development for our 'Living & Learning' program (the fruits of which should hopefully emerge publicly in the second half of this year).

What has particularly changed Sam's thinking recently, through activities such as the speech we delivered at the Virtual Ability non-profit organization in Second Life and the reading of the free interactive visual novel 'Katawa Shoujo' (available for Windows, Mac and Linux), is how – as able-bodied people – we relate on a personal, emotional level to those that we seek to serve – not just the disabled person but also their teachers, workers and carers.

This personal connection was perhaps a missing-link in our research: while we had an understanding of the mechanics of disability and assistive technologies, we have never claimed to truly -understand- what it is like to be disabled, and nor will we do so in future. That would be a ridiculous, patronizing assertion.

Instead, we have always taken the approach of developing tools and methods that we hoped would address the mechanics of disability, and in doing so empower people to help themselves to a greater extent and so gain greater confidence, independence and happiness.

'Katawa Shoujo' was transformative to Sam's thought processes about a range of disabilities and how they affect that person's education and personal-emotional life. If you disregard the risque parts (which are optional self-contained narratives that can be switched off completely in the main menu anyway without particularly affecting the story) then it can be used as an extremely powerful visual training guide for those who either work with disabled people already or would like to enter that field.

Other features of the book include the ability to view a gallery of its images, music and video outside of the story once they have been unlocked and jump to any point of the story that has already been passed through by the reader, meaning that it is possible to design training and lesson plans around its content. An instructor could, for example, play through the entire book to unlock everything (or downloaded a completed save-file from the internet) and then save and provide their students with the save so that they can access the materials at any time.

If a measure of the effectiveness of a story is what you do with the impressions it leaves once you walk away from the page, then the fact that we googled about learning sign language (amongst other themes from the novel) demonstrates that our future assistive content is likely to be shaped in no small part by our experiences with this great book! We absolutely recommend that you give 'Katawa Shoujo' a try as well – we think you will be surprised by how much it affects you ...

Fleet Goldenberg

Sambiglyon Community Manager

THIS WEEK'S NEW 'PREMIUM EDITION' BOOK

The restored high-definition Premium Edition of 'Takeoff Tales: Close Encounters of the Absurd Kind' is now available in free PDF and paid print book and ePub e-book formats!

If you enjoy our book range and are an author or artist yourself who is looking to publish your work then you may be interested in our free custom book layout, publishing and distribution service. Please visit our Publishing Service page for full details!

IMAGINED BUT NOT IMAGINARY FRIENDS

We've added a new item about dealing with childrens' imaginary friends to the Ideas Archive.

ARCTIC-ULATING AMERICAN HISTORY

If you'd like to learn about the life of Arctic explorer pioneers Olaus & Mardy Murie, please visit the Murie Cabin exhibit in Second Life on Eduisland 9, built by Fleet Goldenberg in partnership with Wild Sanctuary and its Arctic Live campaign.

LETTING IT SLIDE

We have placed a strip of slider bars on Sam's 'Free Resources' page that you can print off onto address sticker labels and use to stick onto pictures / photos and objects to create your own custom version of the 'Living & Learning' program's 'Personal Settings Slider' tool.

FASTER, CLEARER TOOL PICKS

Speaking of the Living & Learning tools, we have updated the 'Living & Learning Tool Selector' feature from a static chart to an interactive interface that features a greater amount of detail about each tool.

We have also begun an initiative to redesign the range of slider-based tools so that they can be represented by a single tool that is easily adaptable to a specific purpose – we'll have more on that in a future newsletter update.

FLEET DEV BLOG - DISABILITY SPECIAL

Recently, Sambiglyon community Manager Fleet Goldenberg's explorations of the Japanese interactive visual novel about disability, 'Katawa Shoujo', and subsequent investigations into real-life disability in Japan, have been chronicled in our Facebook account. In this special section, we will highlight those postings in the order that they were made.

We have also begun an initiative to redesign the range of slider-based tools so that they can be represented by a single tool that is easily adaptable to a specific purpose – we'll have more on that in a future newsletter update.

Now downloading the 421 mb 'full' version of 'Katawa Shoujo'. Act 1 took a couple of hours to read in itself because it was so long, so it'll be fascinating to see how much longer the full version is. I greatly look forward to it!

I finished my first complete read-through (play-through?) of the interactive Japanese visual novel about disability, 'Katawa Shoujo', last night. It was a wonderful story that has left a lasting impression on my mind that gave me cause to think in deeper detail about aspects of my own life.

I started a fresh read-through of 'Katawa Shoujo' this evening, saving at the interactive story choice branch-points so I can explore different outcomes without going through the entire story from scratch each time. Once you get past a branch-point, the story changes radically and becomes virtually a whole new book. It was worked on for 5 years, so I guess the team had time to make it a very big book.

It provokes deep thought, and it'll be interesting to see what emerges in my mind once all the different story themes and insights coalesce together and form some conclusions. For now, I can say this much: I wonder how much I really know about what it's like to be a teenager these days. I guess the core stuff about being that age never changes no matter how society changes!

I discovered that there are actually five major story threads in the book, and which one you spend most of the book on is determined by multiple-choice options during Act 1. Each story – which is linked to the events and characters of the other threads but is otherwise hugely different in its plot and focuses on a different girl with a different form of disability – took approximately six hours to complete, even with my speed-reading ability.

By reading and finishing each storyline, you get a much more complete picture of the subject of youth disability in general. There is also a 'percentage completed' rating for how much of the book you have experienced.

My current rating is 94%, because I mostly got the 'good' endings through my choices of action and missed most of the 'bad' endings (though if you save at the multiple choice branch-points then you can go back and have another chance to get the good ending if the story goes wrong).

I spent some of the weekend doing extensive web research on the real-life special needs education system in Japan and incorporating material into my research notes for future reference.

If you have an interest in how Japan approaches Special Needs Education (which can span everything from learning difficulties and ADHD to mentally and physically disabled students), there is an excellent English-language PDF presentation by the National Institute for Special Education (NISE), which oversees matters of special education in Japan.

THIS WEEK'S FLEET GOLDENBERG 'DEVELOPER DIARY' HIGHLIGHTS ON FACEBOOK

The Ideas Archive design refit is complete after a solid week of reprogramming work! The enhancements are numerous and will be listed in full on an imminent update of the Archive hub-page. Primary among them is expansion to support the addition of new types of high quality media within Archive items, greater text readability, more attractive presentation and direct links to relevant Sam content outside of the archive as well as the usual in-archive further reading suggestions.

Entries can now be up to 15 steps long (and easily expandable beyond that in future if necessary) in order to accommodate the future expansion of Archive entries into new types of media such as images, blueprints, 3D models, video clips and others. Check out an example page here!

Also, an illustrated guide to the new interface has now been added to the Archive's hub page.

In the supermarket the store security guard bounded up to me and enthusiastically greeted me and enquired about my life. I guessed he must have known me at high school but I couldn't place the face at all and tried not to let it show. It was like that at university - everyone seemed to know me and waved and called, but I couldn't recognize most of them.

I was pleased that they liked me but at the same time was somewhat bemused by it. Still, it was beneficial in the sense that after that, I became somewhat immune to being affected by praise, while still always really appreciating when someone takes the trouble to give it. Without that flattery burn-out in uni, I could have ended up like the elitist pony Rarity.

SuperBetter is a website that "helps you achieve your health goals — or recover from an illness or injury — by increasing your personal resilience. Resilience means staying curious, optimistic and motivated even in the face of the toughest challenges."

A 9 year old boy has built an amusement arcade from cardboard. Internet well-wishers have subsequently donated $130,000 USD to a college fund for him.

A new developer video has been released for the Storybricks MMO constructor.

Via BuzzFeed: some dolphins meet a tiger and a penguin!

SOCIAL NETWORK HIGHLIGHTS FROM FRIENDS OF SAM


Kimberly Flack

"I don't believe people are looking for the meaning of life as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive." Joseph Campbell


Beth Ritter-Guth

Teaching seniors how to effectively use textual support is like herding angry cats through a desert of thirsty cactus plants.


Lori Bell

My son Patrick Bell was seleted by Larry Eskridge of the Canton Daily Ledger as the Best Comic Actor in Fulton County High School plays this year - congratulations son! :)


Charles F. Radley

Rocket companies hope to repurpose Saturn 5 engines:


Nikki Bolt

Fujin coin bank arrived this morning!! I wasn't sure my order had been processed but I was proved wrong! He looks awesome and very heavy. I don't think I can bear to put filthy loose change inside him … so I'll just keep him as an ornament.

UPCOMING EVENTS

If you wish your upcoming event to be highlighted in our newsletter then please email your news, preferably with a week's advance notice before the date of the event, to marty@sambiglyon.org

Date: Every Sunday, the Garden of Healthy Aging, Eduisland 2, 1PM SL (Pacific) Time

Presenter: Zsuzsa Tomsen

Description: Join Occupational Therapy @ Thomas Jefferson University every Sunday at the Garden of Healthy Aging for a weekly discussion event about being active in senior years.

SLurl Teleport Link:


http://www.slurl.com/secondlife/Eduisland%202/104/86/21/

Thursday 26 April, Eduisland 5 Sandbox, 5pm SL (Pacific) Time.

Presenter: Serena Offcourse

Description: Eduisland Volunteer, Serena Offcourse will be in the Eduisland 5 Sandbox to help newcomers, support building questions, and offer any help needed.

SLurl Teleport Link:


http://www.slurl.com/secondlife/Eduisland%205/164/108/21/