UW News

July 20, 1999

UW program shows students with disabilities they can DO-IT

Note to reporters: Please contact Laura Levitin-Wilson at (206) 221-4162 or levitin@u.washington.edu if you plan to cover any DO-IT events. This will allow her to ensure that there are students at the event who have signed photo releases.

About 60 high school students from across the nation with ambitions to attend college will gather at the University of Washington in July and August for programs filled with typical summer camp activities – games, classes, treasure hunts and late-night pillow fights.

What’s atypical about these campers is that all of them have disabilities. The occasion is the summer study sessions of the Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology (DO-IT) program, an award-winning UW effort intended to show the students how to develop the skills needed to enter a college or university and DO-IT.

“This program shows students what they can do in college and beyond,” said Sheryl Burgstahler, DO-IT Program director. “It puts them in touch with other students and mentors who can help and encourage them to achieve their goals. By living in the dorm and participating in activities, the students learn what college life is like and how science and other academic activities can be adapted to provide access to them.”

Participants will come in three shifts. First-year DO-IT scholars will stay for two weeks beginning Aug. 3. Students taking part for the second year will stay for one week from Saturday, July 24, to July 30 or Aug. 7-13. They will participate in a variety of activities, including games, dances, virtual reality sessions at the UW’s Human Interface Technology Lab and workshops covering a wide range of topics. In addition, first year scholars will dissect sheep’s hearts, test their pedaling prowess on customized bicycles, visit Microsoft Corp. and the Pacific Science Center and take in a Seattle Mariners baseball game.

DO-IT, founded in 1992, targets high school juniors and seniors with disabilities and seeks to encourage their participation in challenging academic programs and careers. Students selected to be DO-IT scholars are loaned computers, modems, software and adaptive technology to use in their homes as they learn to use the Internet to gather information and communicate with others. Each year, 20 new scholars enter the program, beginning their experience with the two-week Phase I summer camp. The program continues with independent projects and Internet interaction with mentors, teachers and fellow scholars during the school year and concludes the following summer with a weeklong Phase II camp. Initially funded through a National Science Foundation Grant, the DO-IT scholars program is now funded by the State of Washington.

DO-IT has won a number of national and regional awards, including the National Information Infrastructure Award in Education, the King County Adult Service Agency Award and the President’s Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring of Underrepresented Groups. The program was also showcased in the 1997 President’s Summit on Volunteerism and the 1996 National Science Foundation Dynamic Partnerships invitational conference.

Here is a list of potential photo opportunities:

? Zoo trip; Sunday (July 25) from noon – 4 p.m., Woodland Park Zoo.
? Virtual reality workshop, Monday (July 26) – July 30, from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., Fluke Hall (contact Levitin-Wilson to make arrangements).
? Sheep heart dissection, Aug. 5 at 11 a.m., Smith Hall 404.
? Science on the Net, Aug. 5 at 2 p.m., Husky Union Building 106B.
? Customized bicycling, Aug. 6 from 7-9 p.m., Burke Gillman Trail, meeting place TBA
? Pacific Science Center, Aug. 7 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
? Communication workshop and role playing, Aug. 9 at 2:15 p.m., Loew Hall 113.
? Virtual reality lab tour, Aug. 9 from 7-9 p.m., Fluke Hall 215.
? Chinese sumi painting workshop, Aug. 11 at 7 p.m., McCarty Library.


For more information, contact Levitin-Wilson at the number or address listed above or Burgstahler at (206) 543-0622 or sherylb@cac.washington.edu.