DO-IT Director honored as "Catalyst" in Promoting Accessible Technology Development and Use

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Sheryl Burgstahler was presented the prestigious Harry J. Murphy Catalyst Award ( on March 21 in Los Angeles. This biennial award is sponsored by the Trace Research and Development Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is presented at the annual CSUN conference on "Technology and Persons With Disabilities." This conference, which Dr. Harry J. Murphy founded, has become preeminent in its field, and a meeting place for people from around the world who are interested in the development and use of technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities.

The Catalyst award program was created to help identify, acknowledge, and honor those who bring people together and facilitate the efforts of others in the field of technology and disability. It recognizes "a class of people who inspire action and foster the achievements of others while taking none of the credit for themselves." As stated by Dr. Gregg Vanderheiden, Director of the Trace Center, "Catalysts are elements or chemicals that can cause or accelerate reactions but do not, themselves, get used up. They are, in this case, people who make things happen by their presence and by what they do. They don't necessarily do everything themselves but they bring out the best in the rest of us. They connect the rest of us, and facilitate our interactions so that we all can do great things."

Dr. Burgstahler directs Accessible Technology Services and Outreach and is the founder and director of DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology, at the University of Washington in Seattle. DO-IT's many projects promote the success of students with disabilities in academic programs and careers and employ technology as an empowering tool. These activities foster collaboration between stakeholder groups and support the efforts of others in the field of technology and disability.

Dr. Burgstahler has been tireless in her efforts to fund collaborative activities and has secured a total of more than $30,000,000 from the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Labor, the State of Washington, corporations, foundations and private donors. DO-IT projects have received many awards, including the National Information Infrastructure Award in Education, The President's Award for Mentoring, and the AHEAD (Association of Higher Education and Disability) Program Recognition award.