What is the benefit of e-mentoring to students with disabilities?
It is often reported that mentor support can help students with disabilities reach their social, academic, and career potential. Mentors provide direction and motivation, instill values, promote professionalism, help students develop leadership skills, and share relevant experiences. Students with disabilities can benefit from relationships with peer and adult mentors who have similar disabilities. DO-IT has supported an e-mentoring community for students with disabilities since 1992.
Adult mentors are an important part of the DO-IT team. DO-IT Mentors are college students, faculty, and professionals in a wide variety of career fields, many with disabilities themselves. Proteges are participants in the DO-IT Scholars, Pals, or Campers programs. These students are making plans for postsecondary education and employment. They all have disabilities. Frequent electronic communications and personal contact bring DO-IT proteges and mentors together to facilitate academic, career, and personal achievements.
Although most communication occurs via electronic mail, some mentors meet their proteges during summer study programs at the University of Washington and at other DO-IT activities across the United States. In-person contact strengthens relationships formed online.
For more information about e-mentoring and the DO-IT mentoring community, consult Opening Doors: Mentoring on the Internet. You may also be interested in viewing the video Part of Me, Not All of Me in which teens with disabilities share their interests, activities, and other aspects of their lives showing that their disabilities do not define who they are.