DO-IT Program Receives Accolade UW uses technology to help the disabled

Marsha King

The following article appeared in the July 12, 1995 issue of The Seattle Times. Reprinted by permission.

A University of Washington program that uses computers to inspire students with disabilities to pursue careers in science, math and engineering has been named one of the nation's "champions of cyberspace."

The UW's DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) project is among six winners to be announced at an awards ceremony today in Washington, D.C.

The program took first place in the education category of the first annual Champions of Cyberspace competition sponsored by the National Information Infrastructure. The NII is composed of more than 70 private businesses, nonprofit organizations, schools and government agencies.

The winners were picked for their creative and real-life applications of the information super-highway. More than 500 entries were submitted in six categories: arts and entertainment, business, community, education, government and health.

The UW DO-IT program for high-school students is in its third year and is sponsored in part by the National Science Foundation.

"It's an outstanding example of how the so-called information highway can really be used to empower a particular group of people," said Jim Hake, chairman of the NII awards program.

Every summer, students in the DO-IT program live on the UW campus to get a glimpse of educational and career possibilities. They also learn how computers and technology can make it easier for people who are disabled to go to college and reach their life dreams.

During the summer program, they might design bridges, grow crystals of learn how to surf the Internet. They also meet other students and faculty who have disabilities.

Afterward, the same students keep in touch from their homes by chatting via electronic mail not only with each other, but with friends around the world including mentors who have also overcome disabilities to succeed. One such mentor is a lecturer in computer science from Scotland who is hearing-impaired.

Students who don't have computer equipment can borrow it from the DO-IT program.

This summer's two-week camp begins Aug. 6, with 20 students from Idaho, Oregon, Montana, North Dakota and Washington. The program is a joint venture of the College of Engineering and the Office of Computing and Communications, both at the UW.

Other winning projects have helped health officials track outbreaks of infectious diseases, rural library users tap into national databases such as the Library of Congress and given families of Alzheimer's patients a link to 24-hour support and clinical experts, according to a release from NII.

DO-IT's address on the internet is: (no hyphen).