We are back!


Okay, we never really went anywhere. Our Facebook group continues to be incredibly active, and you can always find us on Twitter. However, we did take a much lengthier than expected break from our weekly support group meetings over the summer as we transitioned from our previous site on Second Life.

CROWD LogoThanks to the Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Research on Women with Disabilities (CROWD), we now have a brand-new space to hold meetings on Second Life. CROWD is run by women with disabilities, and one of their many projects utilizes the Second Life platform to develop and carry out health promotion interventions for women with disabilities. It is a match made in heaven!

We have had many requests over our break for our meetings to continue, and we are happy to say that the wait is over! On November 3, 2013, at 1 PM Pacific, we will be holding our first support group meeting at our new location on Second Life. This meeting is for women with disabilities only. We encourage everyone to show up early to make sure that you can access the new location.

As always, if you don’t choose to (or can’t) use Second Life for whatever reason, you can always join us on our chat room. It is an IRC channel that can be accessed from our website, or by using mIRC or many other free IRC clients. The details can be found on the Chat Room page if you prefer to connect using another client.

We will be having events for the general public in the future, so stay tuned. We encourage everyone to subscribe to our Google calendar, or join one of our other communities to get notices about future events.

Have questions about how to connect? Comment below, or connect with us on any of our communities!

GimpGirl Moves to a New Sim

GimpGirl Community’s current Second Life sim will be closing as of May 11, 2013. In June, we will have a new Second Life space set up and will notify everyone when it opens! Until then, we will be taking a break after May 11 from regular scheduled meetings, so our last meeting for a few weeks will be the Hang Out Hour on May 8. We will announce the next meeting as we get closer to opening our new space on Second Life. In the meantime, you can get involved on Facebook and Twitter, or reach us on our website contact form.

A reminder to all current vendors and tenants: Our current Second Life sim will be completely shutting down as of May 11. Don’t wait until the last minute to save all of your objects! If you have anything on our parcel that is irreplaceable, please take it into your inventory as soon as possible. All vendor spaces and apartments will completely disappear on or around May 11. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns that we can assist you with.

GimpGirl Community’s 15th Anniversary Celebration

In February we celebrate GimpGirl Community’s 15th anniversary. We’ve come a long way since it was founded in 1998, however our mission remains the same — to support the lives of women with disabilities. We could not do this without the support of our members.

To mark this celebration we would like to ask you to submit your thoughts to us on what GimpGirl has meant to you. It could be a memory, a poem, a piece of creative writing or art work. We will showcase them on our website, Flickr, Second Life, Facebook and Twitter. We are also planning a celebration (details to come) where we will showcase some pieces and show art work in our Second Life gallery and on Flickr. We ask that these be submitted by 28th of February.

You can email your entry to us using the contact form on our website or add pictures to our Flickr group. You can also comment on this post with your memories. What is your first memory of GimpGirl? What is your favorite memory since being part of the community? We look forward to reading them!

GimpGirl Turns 14

Today marks the 14th anniversary of GimpGirl Community! We have taken many forms in the last 14 years, but our mission has always remained the same: to bring together women with disabilities in the spirit of mutual support and positivity. That single mission brings together individuals with many different disabilities from a variety of countries and backgrounds to share our commonalities.

Our community’s administrators and facilitators have always been women with disabilities who volunteer their time because they believe that our community should be strengthened from within by people who understand the lived experience of being a woman with a disability.

We have also grown through the support of many others. Indeed, it is through volunteerism, in-kind donations of services, creative management of available resources and the use of open source and free to use online tools that we have survived and flourished.

Do you have any stories, anecdotes or favorite memories of your time with GimpGirl? We would love to hear from you on your experience of the last 14 years!

The Internet, Disability and Artistic Expression

This article was originally posted on Yahoo! Accessibility.

Feminist Art Movement

The world of art, particularly art displayed in larger professional art galleries, has long been the domain of white men. Well-known artists throughout history are almost all white men, and depictions of women are often passive and sensual rather than involved in her surroundings. The images are of women as seen through the eyes of men, rather than how they see themselves (Whitehead, 1999; Brand, 2006).

The Guerrilla Girls, a group of women who work to get women and minorities represented as artists, called the Metropolitan out for their biased representation where 97% of the work displayed was done by men, and 83% of the nude work displayed was of naked women – asking “Do Women Need to Be Naked To Get into The Met?” (Brand, 2006). Out of frustration for the lack of representation of personal experience, women started the feminist art movement in the 1970s both to get their artistic expressions seen, and also as a form of activist response to mainstream art.

Art Online

With the ever-growing popularity of the Internet, women are able to connect with other people who understand their frustrations, as well as put their own artistic expression in very public spaces. Self-expression made public can convey a great deal of meaning for the artist – especially for marginalized groups. Art is often about feeling (even more so for women, who often experience art with both sides of their brain), and for many marginalized groups, those feelings go unnoticed (BBC, 2009).

The Internet provides a medium for art that previously would previously have never seen the light of day. Artists can have their own website to represent their work, as can physical art galleries that house pieces of art that can be later viewed in person. Additionally, performance artist groups can share videos of their work, both vastly increasing who they can reach and providing a way of growing interest in their theater performances. Writers can create blogs and self-publish their work online. They can also spread the word about published pieces and talk to members of the target audience. Community can be built around art in broader ways that transcend what was previously experienced by localized art communities.

Women with Disabilities

Female artists with disabilities are no exception. As a marginalized group, they struggle with representation in the larger art world. However, in the later half of the 20th century, the disability rights movement also fostered the creation of an entire genre of art (Disability Art) that explores the experience of living with a disability (Barnes, 2008). Many modern female artists with disabilities cite both the disability rights and feminist movements as dominant inspirations in their work.

Here is just a small list of amazing women (mostly from the U.S.) who at least in part benefit from the use the Internet to spread the impact of their work: Petra Kuppers, performance artist and founder of The Olimpias project; Ju Gosling, multimedia storyteller and performance artist; Cheryl Marie Wade, writer and performer; Laura Hershey, writer and poet; Anne Finger, author; Victoria Ann Lewis, performer and writer; Riva Lehrer, painter and writer; Sunaura (Sunny) Taylor, painter; Veronica Elsea, composer and musician; Carrie Sandahl, performer and head of the UIC Program on Disability Art, Culture, and Humanities; and many of the AXIS Dance Company dancers. This is nowhere near an exhaustive list. Know of others (especially outside the U.S)? Comment below and share them!

There are also several websites and organizations that support the work of artists with disabilities online (such as VSANational Institute of Art and DisabilitiesNational Arts and Disability CenterDisability Art and Culture Project, and one page mentions like The Amazing Art of Disabled Artists, among others). Know of other organizations or collections (especially outside the U.S)? Again, comment below and share them with others!

GimpGirl Community supports female artists with disabilities through our virtual art gallery (see pictures below). On our Second Life parcel, a co-created space, we have an art gallery to showcase the artwork of our members, who are often marginalized as women, disabled, poor, minority, etc. Their works convey a great deal of feeling – physical pain, heartache, frustration, joy, power, friendship, and knowing.

For many of the artists, these pictures had never been seen by anyone outside of their family or roommates. When they put them in our gallery, other women who experience similar feelings had immediate connections with what the feeling was. The artist was there, being real and vulnerable and connecting with other people who understood. It is an incredibly powerful thing, to feel that connection over something you never thought you would share with anyone. Technology allows people to come together in this way, supporting expression, healing and connection.


Barnes, C. (2008). Behinderung und Dritte Welt (Journal for Disability and International Development). 19 Jargang, Ausgabe 1. 4 -13.

Brand, P. (2006). Feminist Art Epistemologies: Understanding Feminist Art. Hypatia, 21:3.

GimpGirl Community Moves to New Second Life Home, in Collaboration with the Experiential Design and Gaming Environment Lab at Ryerson University


GimpGirl Community Moves to New Second Life Home, in Collaboration with the Experiential Design and Gaming Environment Lab at Ryerson University

September 15, 2010 – The GimpGirl Community, an international online support network for women with disabilities, is launching its new home within the virtual world of Second Life, in collaboration with the Experiential Design and Gaming Environment (EDGE) Lab at Ryerson University, based in Toronto, Canada.

GimpGirl Community was established in 1998 as a support network and resource center for women with disabilities. One of the first of its kind, it has brought together women with disabilities, allies, and supporters from around the world, using various Internet-based platforms. GimpGirl Community is active on several sites, including Flickr, LiveJournal, the social networking platforms of Facebook and Twitter, and its own website forums, among others.

Since February 2008, GimpGirl has maintained land within the virtual world of Second Life, previously sponsored by 3D Embodiment. This in-world environment includes space for weekly support group meetings, events and presentations, and areas to showcase art and items for sale created by community members, along with residential areas.

The EDGE lab is a transdisciplinary research lab exploring virtual and mixed-reality applications at the intersection of developing technologically embedded social and cultural practices, and shifting economic landscapes. The lab is supported with funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation and the Ministry for Research and Innovation of the Province of Ontario.

This new partnership will allow us to expand and more fully utilize our presence on Second Life and beyond,” said Jennifer Cole, program director of the GimpGirl Community. “Our goal is to create and maintain spaces online where women with disabilities can express themselves, support each other, and and engage their creativity.”

The new partnership with the EDGE Lab will allow GimpGirl Community access to the lab’s research and development infrastructure for the exploration of virtual and mixed-reality projects. The partnership will also increase traffic to the GimpGirl Community presence in Second Life, and ultimately support all of the community platforms used by the GimpGirl Community. This will allow for continued and exciting improvements in how the GimpGirl Community can reach out and support the lives of women with disabilities it connects with every day.

A “moving party” will take place within Second Life on September 19th, 2010 from 12 PM to 3 PM (PDT), which will include live music, as well as a DJ and dance party, a tour, and a guided storytelling hour. The event will also be accessible outside of Second Life via the GimpGirl Community website chat room and audio stream, and related projects and discussions will take place across the various GimpGirl Community outposts on the web.

For more information, visit http://www.gimpgirl.com.

GimpGirl Community

Dr. Jason Nolan
Experiential Design and Gaming Environments (EDGE) Lab
Ryerson University

SLCC 2010

Come join GimpGirl Community at the Second Life Community Convention in person or online! Katherine Mancuso (SL: Muse Carmona) will be representing GimpGirl Community in the following SLCC 2010 events:

GimpGirl: Weaving a Virtual Support Network for Women With Disabilities
Saturday, 6:30 to 7:30am Pacific – Thoreau
UStream Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/slcc6

GimpGirl’s mission is to connect women with disabilities through social technologies to support each other’s lives. We believe the lessons we have learned about how universal design and accessibility apply to facilitating conversations about healthcare and support across platforms are translatable to other community building, education, and collaboration efforts in Second Life.

Virtual Worlds Standards: Why You Should Care
David Levine (SL: Zha Ewry), Katherine Mancuso (SL: Muse Carmona), Jeanne Spellman (SL: Jeanne Solo)
Sunday, 8:00 to 9:00am Pacific – St. James
UStream Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/slcc2/

As virtual worlds evolve, standards will be part of the dialogue shaping the growth of their technical architectures and social ecosystems. Topics will include: standards for Second Life-Like worlds, compatibility with existing Internet technologies, accessibility for persons with disabilities, and standards for meshes and graphics.

Utilizing Virtual Worlds for Real Life Good
Joyce Bettencourt (SL: Rhiannon Chatnoir), Henry Allen (SL: Jaywick Forcella), Kathey Fatica (SL: Katydid Something), Katherine Mancuso (SL: Muse Carmona), Janyth Ussery (SL: Saxet Uralia)
Sunday, 11:30am to 12:30pm Pacific – St. James
UStream Channel: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/slcc2/

Can a virtual world manifest real life good? This presentation will be an overview and panel discussion of best practices and learned experiences of five people working formally and informally on social good, nonprofit and philanthropic projects within Second Life. Topics such as using virtual simulation for support and awareness, fundraising, community outreach, and event planning along with the opportunity to askquestions, and pick the collective brains of the panelists.

All events can be viewed from Second Life at the SLCC sim (SLurl: http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/SLCC%201/233/24/25 ) in the room listed, or on the Ustream address in each event listing above!