DO-IT History

A mentor works with a student during Summer Study 1994.

In October 1992, Sheryl Burgstahler envisioned a world where all people with disabilities could reach their full potential and contribute their unique perspectives and talents to society. She requested a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) with the goal of increasing the representation of individuals with disabilities in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) academic programs and careers.

NSF funded numerous activities that include summer programs and online communities for students with disabilities and disability training for educators, employers, service providers, and other stakeholders. The U.S. Department of Education also funded training for postsecondary faculty, service directors, and technology specialists to employ universal design strategies to make their offerings more inclusive. The Department of Labor, Microsoft, Boeing, Washington State, and private donations also provided funding.

The collection of all of these projects is what we call “DO-IT.” We currently manage more than ten programs—each with unique objectives, budgets, activities, and timelines that have taken us on a wild ride that has been rewarded with the success of thousands of people with disabilities.