Use of the Internet in DO-IT

by Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph. D.

Computer and network technologies have become indispensable tools in virtually all post-secondary academic programs. The Internet network provides a rich environment for electronic communication and information access. Networking services create new options for independent and convenient access to on-line library catalogs, books, journals, encyclopedias, dictionaries, newspapers, and other information resources for individuals with disabilities who have computer systems, adaptive technology, and network access.

The Internet is a collection of networks that use the same protocol suite in order to function as a single, giant network. It joins a wide variety of devices from laptop computers to supercomputers and connects more than ten million people around the world. Many people connect to the Internet through colleges, universities, corporations, and other organizations. In addition, some commercial service providers allow individuals to purchase accounts. These services usually charge an initial setup fee and an hourly fee.

Access to computers and the Internet is an integral part of the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) project at the University of Washington. The goal of DO-IT is to increase the participation of individuals with disabilities in science, engineering, and mathematics academic programs and careers. DO-IT Scholars are high school students with disabilities who have an interest and aptitude in science and mathematics. They are loaned computer systems and appropriate adaptive technology. DO-IT Scholars are provided with Internet connections and matched with Mentors. Mentors are practicing engineers, scientists, and post-secondary students in science, engineering, and mathematics; most have disabilities themselves. DO-IT Scholars attend two summer programs at the University of Washington where they are introduced to college life and to disciplines in science, engineering, and mathematics.

How do DO-IT Scholars access the Internet?

DO-IT Scholars use a variety of adaptive computer technologies. For example, those who are blind use voice and Braille output. Individuals with mobility impairments use alternative keyboards. Individuals with low vision use enlarged characters displayed on large monitors. Standard computers, modems, and communications software are used for Internet access once the appropriate adaptive technology is acquired. Most DO-IT Scholars access the Internet from home using standard telephone lines.

The following creative means for providing dial-up Internet access from DO-IT Scholar homes are employed:

For what purposes do DO-IT Scholars use the Internet?

Once appropriate methods are found to operate computers, the Internet provides many options for electronic communication and information access. For example, DO-IT Scholars who have visual impairments can access materials electronically and their adaptive technologies provide voice, Braille, and large print output. Individuals who cannot remove materials from shelves, hold newspapers, or turn pages in a book can use their adaptive devices to access materials to read and manipulate independently on their screens.

DO-IT Scholars also use the Internet to:

Electronic tools used by DO-IT participants include:

How can others interact electronically with DO-IT?

Additional Information

DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs such as those in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology. Primary funding for DO-IT is provided by the National Science Foundation, the State of Washington, and the U.S. Department of Education. DO-IT is a collaboration of UW Information Technology and the Colleges of Engineering and Education at the University of Washington.

To order free publications or newsletters use the DO-IT Publications Order Form; to order videos and training materials use the Videos, Books and Comprehensive Training Materials Order Form.

For further information, to be placed on the DO-IT mailing list, request materials in an alternate format, or to make comments or suggestions about DO-IT publications or web pages contact:

University of Washington
Box 354842
Seattle, WA 98195-4842
206-685-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
888-972-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
206-221-4171 (fax)
509-328-9331 (voice/TTY) Spokane

Founder and Director: Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.

DO-IT Funding and Partners