DO-IT Pals

DO-IT Pals is an electronic community of teens with disabilities planning for college and careers. They engage with each other, mentors, and DO-IT Staff and learn about useful resources.

Who can be a DO-IT Pal?

A mentor works with a high school student in a computer lab.

Are you a teenager with a disability?

Do you want to attend college?

Are you interested in pursuing a challenging career?

Would you like to meet other teens with disabilities who have similar goals? Get tips for success from college students and other adults with disabilities?

Do you want to learn about scholarships, internships, and other opportunities?

Can you get access to a computer and the Internet?

If you've answered yes to these questions, YOU would make a great DO-IT Pal!

What do DO-IT Pals do?


Frequent email and personal contacts with Mentors support DO-IT Pals' academic, career, and personal goals. Mentors are college students, faculty, and practicing engineers, scientists, and other professionals. Many DO-IT Mentors have disabilities themselves. Experienced DO-IT Pals also develop and practice communication and leadership skills by acting as peer mentors for incoming DO-IT Pals. They make friends and motivate each other to achieve their goals.

A student in a wheelchair uses assistive technology to access a computer


DO-IT Pals use the Internet to explore academic and career interests. It is their door to the information and resources they need for success.


Some DO-IT Pals apply their skills and knowledge in projects based on their interests. DO-IT Mentors and staff act as resources and provide assistance. Examples of possible projects include: complete an exhibit or a paper about assistive technology for people with disabilities for a school assignment; be a "mentor" to younger students with disabilities in the community - become their friend, encourage their interests in school, show them how to use a computer and the Internet; or give a presentation to recruit DO-IT Pals.

What's expected of DO-IT Pals?

DO-IT Pals come from all over the world. Most activities take place online. DO-IT Pals:

  • Log on to the Internet at least once per week.
  • Regularly communicate with DO-IT Pals and Mentors.
  • Send an email message to the doitpals or doitchat list at least once every two weeks.
  • Send greetings to new DO-IT Pals, and other new participants when they are introduced online.
  • Use online resources in classes at school (for example, to obtain information to use in class papers, projects, or discussions).
  • Attend DO-IT events when possible.

What happens when DO-IT Pals graduate from high school?

DO-IT Pal who graduates from high school can become a DO-IT Mentor. A DO-IT Mentor helps with program activities, participates in electronic communications, and mentors younger DO-IT participants. DO-IT Mentor Application.

What's a DO-IT Mentor?

A student accesses the internet with a laptop.

DO-IT Mentors are valuable resources for DO-IT Pals. As guides, counselors, teachers, and friends, they inspire and facilitate academic, career, and personal achievements. Relationships developed with Mentors become channels for the passage of information, advice, opportunities, challenges, and support with the ultimate goals of achievement and fun. DO-IT Mentors offer:

  • Role Modeling - DO-IT Mentors are successful individuals who have collectively accomplished many of the things that DO-IT Pals strive for.
  • Information - Mentors share their knowledge, experiences, and wisdom.
  • Challenges - Mentors stimulate curiosity and build confidence by presenting new ideas and opportunities.
  • Goal Setting - Mentors help DO-IT Pals discover interests, define goals, and outline strategies for success.
  • Support - Mentors encourage achievement by offering support to DO-IT Pals who are growing in new areas.
  • Contacts - Mentors provide valuable opportunities by connecting DO-IT Pals with academic, career, and personal contacts.

To get to know MentorsDO-IT Pals:

  • Introduce themselves. They share their personal, academic, and career interests. They describe their future plans.
  • Ask Mentors specific questions about disability-related issues, college, careers, and/or transition to adulthood. Ask Mentors about their personal interests, their academic background, and their career experiences.

How do DO-IT Pals access technology and electronic resources?

A mentor collaborates with a high school student in a wheelchair or a project using a laptop.

To become a part of DO-IT Pals, you'll need to have access to the Internet, probably from your home, library, or school. You'll also need an email account.

DO-IT does not provide funding for computers, assistive technology, or Internet access forDO-IT Pals; however technical assistance for selecting equipment or an Internet service provider is provided by DO-IT staff.

To contact staff, request publications, ask technical questions, or find out more about the program, email DO-IT.

DO-IT Pals automatically become members of an electronic discussion list, doitpals. To communicate with other Pals, email DO-IT Pals.

To discuss issues pertaining to individuals with disabilities and their pursuit of science, engineering, and mathematics (sem) and other challenging academic programs and careers, DO-IT Pals are automatically subscribed to the larger doitsem discussion list. To send a message to the group use the DO-IT sem email

Parents and others can joining this list by sending an email request to DO-IT.

What is DO-IT Pal "Netiquette"?

A student accesses the internet with a laptop.

Electronic mail guidelines for DO-IT Pals include:

  • Be brief. Keep paragraphs short and use blank spaces between paragraphs.
  • Avoid covering several topics in one message. Instead, send several messages so the receiver can respond to each topic separately.
  • Use mixed upper and lower case letters. Avoid using control characters or special keys.
  • Begin text with the real name of the person addressed and end the text of the message with the author's real name.
  • Include all or parts of an email message that is being replied to.
  • Do not use words others might find offensive and avoid personal attacks or name-calling.
  • Do not participate in conversations that would not be acceptable to parents and/or DO-IT staff.
  • Do not engage in conversations that seem inappropriate. Immediately report offensive or troubling email received to the DO-IT Director.
  • Remember that an email is easy for recipients to forward to others and, therefore, is not appropriate for very personal messages - it's more like a post card than a sealed letter.
  • Take advantage of the spell check feature.
  • Review what's written before sending it.

How do I apply to be a DO-IT Pal?

A high school student uses assistive technology with her laptop.

Teens with disabilities who want to go to college and who have an email address are encouraged to apply to become a DO-IT Pal. Submit the online DO-IT Pals Application form, or request the form via email.

Applicants are informed of their acceptance within two weeks of receipt of their application.

Parents of DO-IT Pals can join an online community of parents of DO-IT Pals and other participants by sending a request to join the DO-IT Parent List.

What is DO-IT?

The University of Washington helps individuals with disabilities transition to colleges, universities, and careers through DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology). Computers and Internet technologies are used as empowering tools. Primary funding for DO-IT is provided by the National Science Foundation, the State of Washington, and the U.S. Department of Education.

Additional grants and gifts have been received from the Boeing Company; Institute for Human Centered Design; Dole Foundation, Telecommunications Funding Partnership; Dynamac Corporation; Eisenhower Professional Development Program, Washington State Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction; Jeld-Wen Foundation; Microsoft Corporation; Mitsubishi Electric America Foundation; NASA; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); NEC Foundation of America; Samuel S. Johnson Foundation; The Seattle Foundation; U.S. Department of Labor; Visio Corporation; and many individuals.

Additional Information

DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) serves to increase the successful participation of individuals with disabilities in challenging academic programs such as those in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology. Primary funding for DO-IT is provided by the National Science Foundation, the State of Washington, and the U.S. Department of Education. DO-IT is a collaboration of UW Information Technology and the Colleges of Engineering and Education at the University of Washington.

Grants and gifts fund DO-IT publications, videos, and programs to support the academic and career success of people with disabilities. Contribute today by sending a check to DO-IT, Box 354842, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195-4842.

Your gift is tax deductible as specified in IRS regulations. Pursuant to RCW 19.09, the University of Washington is registered as a charitable organization with the Secretary of State, state of Washington. For more information call the Office of the Secretary of State, 1-800-322-4483.

To order free publications or newsletters use the DO-IT Publications Order Form; to order videos and training materials use the Videos, Books and Comprehensive Training Materials Order Form.

For further information, to be placed on the DO-IT mailing list, request materials in an alternate format, or to make comments or suggestions about DO-IT publications or web pages contact:

University of Washington
Box 354842
Seattle, WA 98195-4842

206-685-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
888-972-DOIT (3648) (voice/TTY)
206-221-4171 (fax)&
509-328-9331 (voice/TTY) Spokane

Founder and Director: Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.

DO-IT Funding and Partners

Copyright © 2011, 2003, 2000, 1997 University of Washington. Permission is granted to copy these materials for educational, non-commercial purposes provided the source is acknowledged.