This is video of a virtual disability simulation; its object is to get a character who uses a wheelchair from one end of a city to the other. The simulation uses the Cube 2 engine. It was designed in the summer of 2007 by Project Beta, a team of Philadelphia high school students involved in the Building Information Technology Skills (bITS) program. bITS is sponsored by the Information Technology and Society Research Group (ITSRG) at Temple University. According to the bITS project overview:

"All participants in bITS complete a series of modules and exercises in an after-school and weekend program taught by undergraduate and graduate students specializing in GIS, media design, architecture, and engineering to give students technical classroom instruction as well as real-world experience."

 Temple U also has a disability studies program; instuctors Michael Dorn and Carol Marfisi co-taught an "Enabling Spaces" curriculum to the high school students, which:

"was designed to introduce students to the assessment of built urban environments from the perspective of persons with physical disabilities. Students were provided with an introductory lecture to gain familiarity with the history of the disabilities social movement and emergence of the interdisciplinary field of disabilities studies. Students were also given instructions on how to conduct an assessment of the accessibility of a site or neighborhood."

Tera Kirk

Tera Kirk

Tera Kirk grew up in a small Nebraska town called Papillion. Although she has a nonverbal learning disability that affects her visual-spatial skills (among other things), she's always loved video games. Her first game system was a Commodore Vic-20, which her mom bought at a garage sale for $20. With this little computer Tera learned to write Mad Libs in BASIC, to play chess and to steal gold from Fort Knox.

But then a friend introduced her to the seedy underworld of the Mario brothers and she spent her saved-up birthday and Christmas money to buy a Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). Her mom didn't like the Nintendo at first, but The Legend of Zelda changed her mind. (When Tera got Zelda II: The Adventure of Link one Christmas, she suspected it was as much for her mother as for her).

Though she graduated from Agnes Scott College in 2002 and recently learned how to find the movie theater restroom by herself, Tera still loves video games. Far from being a brain-rotting waste of time, they've helped her practice spatial skills and discover new passions. Her love of games like Kid Icarus and The Battle of Olympus led to a degree in Classical Languages and Literatures. She thinks games have a place in discussions on disability and other cultural issues, and is excited to work with the like-minded staff at GameCritics.com.
Tera Kirk

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