DO-IT News -- July 1993

Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology

Volume 1, Number 2

The July edition of the DO-IT newsletter is packed with news and features. This month we've added a technical help column by Dan Comden, Adaptive Technology Specialist. Dan's column is called Technical Tips. Mentor Kevin Berg served as our roving reporter. Enjoy his story about Dr. Hawking's visit.



By Sheryl Burgstahler

People have accused me of being preoccupied with choosing names for organizations and services. I was delighted when Dr. Stephen Hawking validated my concern with his timely words, "The importance in science of a good name should not be underestimated."

Choosing names has been a significant activity of DO-IT during the past year. Even thinking up the acronym DO-IT was not an easy feat. For several weeks, DO-IT staff and associates scribbled ideas on almost every available surface before settling on those two short syllables. We were looking for something that would be easy to read as an acronym and would reflect the spirit of the program when read as an acronym or when read in the expanded form. We wanted it catchy, but not too cute.

DO-IT is a program about people with disabilities (D=disabilities) pursuing academic programs and careers (O=opportunities), with significant use of network resources (I=internetworking) and computers (T=technology). The overall DO-IT name reflects the concept that our program takes action to empower participants to successfully pursue science, engineering and mathematics fields.

We continue to be challenged with name-selection. Our newsletter's name is still tentative and we welcome suggestions. However, we have settled on names for our file server and public electronic addresses. Our new DECstation 5000 Unix workstation is used to host DO-IT accounts and electronic activities. We named it hawking in honor of our friend and mentor, Dr. Stephen Hawking.

We also have set up several discussion, distribution and communication addresses. doitsem is a discussion list for people who are interested in the issues surrounding individuals with disabilities pursuing science, engineering and mathematics (sem). The DO-IT newsletter and other project information are distributed to this list as well. To give a message to the group, e-mail to doitnews is a list of individuals who do not want to be part of the full doitsem discussion, but would like to receive the newsletter and other publications of the project. To subscribe or cancel a subscription to doitsem or doitnews, send e-mail to


By Dan Comden

A UNIX command primer for new users

As you may have discovered, there is a lot more to do on a UNIX host computer than just read and respond to electronic mail. You may have already uncovered the utility of services such as ftp, gopher, archie and telnet.

The UNIX system is similar to the PC and Macintosh in that information can be stored in separate areas. On the PC, you use directories. When you first log in to your UNIX host computer, you are in your own directory which may be named something like /w0/myname where "myname" is your login name. This is your very own directory where you can store files that have been retrieved using services like ftp or gopher or e-mail messages you may have exported. You can also create directories in your file area to further organize your information.

Getting Help on UNIX Commands

As arcane and difficult as UNIX commands appear to be, you can always get help on a specific command by using the man (short for manual) command. Just type: man <command> where <command> is the name of the command you wish to investigate. For example, type man pine to get more information about the pine program. If there is more than one page of text, hit the space bar to display the next page. To exit from the name command, press the Q key to quit.

Next month, we'll learn about listing files.


DO-IT staff and associates are focusing their energy on the summer program slated for August 8-20 on the University of Washington campus.

Eighteen high school students with disabilities will live in the dorms and attend classes, laboratories, lectures and demonstrations as they learn more about science, engineering and mathematics.

Participants will also have time for fun. Some of the evening and weekend entertainment activities scheduled are a presentation by Canine Companions, a tour of the UW virtual reality lab, a trip to the Pacific Science Center and an evening with the Mariners.

Canine Companions
Canine Companions for Independence is a non-profit organization based in Santa Rosa, California. Its mission is to train four types of specially bred assistance dogs in ways that increase the independence of people with disabilities. The four types are, service dogs, hearing dogs, social dogs and specialty dogs. Maime, a service dog performing for DO-IT, opens doors, picks up phones, loads laundry machines and picks up objects.

Virtual Reality
The University of Washington Human Interface Technology (HIT) Lab is an exciting place to learn about the latest developments in virtual reality. DO-IT participants will test their skills with the Shark World game, draw 3-D art with Stereographics and learn about the Virtual Retinal Display equipment.

Pacific Science Center
Saturday, August 14, DO-IT participants are special guests at the Pacific Science Center. Students will receive free admission to the IMAX Theater presentation and the "Space Odyssey" laser show. As an added benefit, a Bubbleologist will create magical and mystical bubbles of all sizes and shapes during the annual Bubble Festival. The participants will also visit the other exhibits and attractions.

The Mariners will be playing at home on Friday, August 13, and DO-IT students and Mentors will cheer for Seattle's home team. It will be an exciting evening of hotdogs, peanuts, fly balls and homeruns.


By Kevin Berg

On the afternoon of July 1, about 25 high school, college and junior high students with disabilities gathered at Seattle University to meet with world-renowned physicist, Dr. Stephen W. Hawking. A number of the students attend Seattle University, several were part of the DO-IT program and others represented schools from around the Seattle area.

Some of the disabilities represented at this event included those that limit physical mobility, those that limit vision or hearing and those created by medical problems such as diabetes.

When Hawking was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gerhig's disease) at the age of 21, the doctors told him he had about two years to live. Now, at age 51, he is doing intensive and exciting new research on black holes.

Hawking uses a computer and speech synthesizer to communicate and write papers.

The discussion time on July 1 was something Hawking had never really done before, but he said it was the kind of thing he had wanted to do. There was some anticipation as the students and press waited in a semi-circle for Hawking to arrive. The students' attendants sat slightly behind the semi-circle and talked among themselves.

When Hawking arrived at about 2 p.m., six hours before he had to lecture to a full auditorium at the Seattle Opera House, he started with a 10 minute background talk about himself which he had prepared beforehand and saved on a computer diskette.

After this short autobiography, the students asked him questions. While a few questions dealt with science and Hawking's education, the majority of the students asked for advice on how to overcome disabilities.

The main theme to all of his answers to these questions was the importance of having a positive attitude. He said that those with disabilities can not get anything accomplished without a positive outlook.

The man who is internationally proclaimed as "today's Einstein" claims to be overrated. Hawking said reports of his intelligence have been exaggerated and are only "media hype." "They want a disabled hero," he told the group, "Well, I'm disabled."

As the students waited for Hawking to compile words for his answers, they talked to each other about the questions they wanted to ask, discussed disability issues and got to know each other a bit.

Hawking's famous sense of humor was very apparent as he answered students' questions. When one student asked about Hawking's recent appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation in which one of the crew members played poker with holograms of Einstein, Newton and Hawking, Hawking answered, "I won the game, but haven't figured out how to cash in the winnings." The audience seemed to enjoy Hawking's sharp wit.

After two hours of discussion, Hawking, not seeming too eager to leave, had to say good-bye as he left for a meeting at Microsoft in Redmond.

Students and adults involved in the DO-IT program stayed for 15 minutes after the discussion in order to meet some of the people they communicate with over the Internet.


The following people make up the principal staff for the DO-IT project. Marysheila Guichon, Program Coordinator; Dan Comden, Adaptive Technology Consultant; Deb Cronheim, Mentoring Specialist; Jane Sandberg, Program Evaluator; Nikki Stauber, Program Assistant; Serena Shubert, Technical Writer; and Sheryl Burgstahler, Project Director.

The following people serve on the DO-IT Advisory Board: Dr. Gene Ball, Microsoft Corporation; Karl Booksh, UW Chemistry Graduate Student; Dr. Fred Campbell, Dean of Undergraduate Education and Vice Provost at UW; Tim Collins, Boeing; Dr. Norris Haring, UW Professor of Special Education; Dr. Jodie Haselkorn, Professor of Rehabilitative Medicine; Jack Methven, US West; Ruby Ryles, parent representative; Virginia Stern, Project Director of Science, Technology and Disability, AAAS; Jerry Van Noy, Manager of Transition Services, Washington DVR; Rich Walsh, Director of the Resource Center for the Handicapped and Robert Wright, Instruction Support Specialist, Seattle Public Schools. Dr. J. Ray Bowen, UW Dean of Engineering, and Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler, Project Director, serve as ex-officio Advisory Board members.


Most DO-IT participants are new guests to the University of Washington computer community. Guests of the system must abide by the UW Ethics Statement listed below. If you have any questions, direct them to or call (206)685-DOIT (685-3648).

Everyone within the UW community who uses a computer has the responsibility to use the resources in an ethical and legal manner. This means that users agree to abide by the following conditions:

In conclusion, University of Washington policy prohibits account theft, file theft, violations of informational privacy and/or penetration or harm to operating systems. If abuse of computer systems occurs, those responsible for such abuse will be held legally accountable.


Primary funding for the DO-IT project is provided by the National Science Foundation. The University of Washington also contributes substantial resources. Additional contributors include:


To request more information

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. 9255803. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.