The following article appeared in the February 16, 1994 issue of the Curry Coastal Pilot from Brookings, Oregon.
DISABLED TEENS OFFERED UNIVERSITY PROGRAMMany teenagers with disabilities think careers in science, engineering or math - fields that can require years of study, often under physically demanding circumstances - are beyond their reach.
Not so, say organizers of a novel program at the University of Washington College of Engineering. To prove the point, they're engaged in a six-state (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon and Washington) search for high school sophomores with disabilities, who have a knack for numbers, neutrons and the like. Applications should be returned by March 10.
Now in its second year, the DO-IT or Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology program uses home computers and electronic mail to link talented high school students year-round with each other and to others around the world who hurdle similar obstacles before succeeding in their respective fields.
If a student doesn't own a computer, the program loans one, along with a modem and other hardware including adaptive equipment.
Students selected to participate in the National Science Foundation-funded program also will spend about two weeks on the University of Washington campus in Seattle this summer immersed in an array of activities planned to give them a feel for what turns people on to careers in science, engineering or math.
Meals and housing are provided, as are sign language interpreters and other accommodations needed to facilitate a successful academic experience.
"Most DO-IT students already have overcome barriers related to their disabilities in order to realize the success they have achieved in high school," said Sheryl Burgstahler, DO-IT director and an assistant director of computing and communications at the university.
"But still, the path to a successful career can be long, and practical advice and encouragement all along the way can be helpful - especially from people who have overcome similar obstacles."
Program mentors include people such as Todd Heywood, a lecturer in computer science at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, who is hearing impaired. DO-IT participants can even reach by computer the famed British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who suffers from Lou Gehrig's disease and is confined to a wheelchair.
For further information or to request application materials in standard print, large print, Braille or audio tape, write DO-IT, University of Washington (JE-25), Seattle, WA 98195. The DO-IT voice phone number is (206) 685-3648.