2022 Scholars Share Their Experiences

Cameron working on his computer.

Web Design Experience

By Cameron, 2022 Scholar

During 2022 DO-IT Summer Study I enjoyed the Web Design session. This session will help me get to know more about code and how to write it. This session is perfect for me due to my interests in computer technology, hardware, and software. We’ll be learning about scripts like JavaScript and HTML and how we can use them to make a program do something. We’ll also learn how to use Visual Studio Code and HTML script so we can code our own team website for the DO-IT Scholars’ program. By the end of Summer Study, we will have a fully functioning website for DO-IT.

Volunteering with the Museum of Flight

By Chris, 2022 Scholar

Hi, I am Chris Pettersson. I volunteer at The Museum of Flight every Saturday from 10:00am to 5:00pm. I rotate to each airplane in the pavilion going from the Concord, Boeing 707(Air Force One), to the Boeing 747-200 “City of Everett”. After that, I go to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. I love volunteering at The Museum of Flight because I greet different people who come see the planes outside in the pavilion and I answer questions from people who are going on each plane. Because I am volunteering all day, I get two fifteen-minute breaks, plus a thirty-minute lunch break whenever I want to have lunch. After I am done volunteering, I get picked up by one of my parents, and I fill out a Google Sheet for every Saturday for each month.

Tools That Help Me with Dyslexia

By Mark, 2022 Scholar

Out of my experiences with my disabilities, I would say that dyslexia is my most challenging disability. I did not find out about having dyslexia until later on in my life. I always struggled with reading and writing in school because I did not have the necessary tools or knowledge to help myself. Once I found out about having dyslexia, I had to work towards finding new tools to help me accommodate my dyslexia. The tools that I have found that help me the most are Co:Writer, Abilitations Hi-Write Paper, Learning Ally, and enlarged text. Co:Writer can give me word ideas when I'm stuck. The Abilitations Hi-Write Paper has yellow lines that I write in which make it easier for me to write. I use audiobooks on Learning Ally; they help me understand the information in an easier way. Lastly, I use enlarged text to help me read and visualize text better. All of these tools help me with my dyslexia and let me go from not being able to do something to actually doing something.

2022 DO-IT Scholars meet over Zoom.

Autism and Creativity: How Autism has Grown my Love of Writing

By Hannah, 2022 Scholar

There may be some of those who know this already, but to those who don’t know, autism and creativity have a strong connection to one another. For some people who don’t know either, is that I have that very disability, despite me not showing it very little, and as a child, I have always had a knack for creating fictional stories. Growing up, I watched a lot of television, and I was intrigued by some of the show's storylines and themes. I wanted to make some of those storylines and themes for myself. I created my own characters and scenarios to interact with in those fictional worlds. Eventually, I learned about some apps that can help you create characters, and I was able to create my own original characters, for existing fictional worlds, or for stories of my own.

My time at DO-IT was a fun experience. I may not have done a lot of writing during that time, but I did know how to create a website and now, I can use other creative ways to tell a story. I have met so many other people who are just as creative as me, and also show the same struggles being a writer.

I hope that other people with similar experiences get to experience this program, as I did, and will have a great start into adulthood.

Connecting with My Disability Identity

By Arun, 2022 Scholar

Disability means something really special to me. I have multiple disabilities, not all of which are diagnosed yet. My symptoms are constantly changing, which leads to many of the people in my life telling me that they are all in my head or that I’m faking or being a burden by asking for help. I have trouble not believing them a lot of the time. There are a few people, though, who reaffirm for me over and over again that my symptoms are real; that I can and should trust myself; and that I deserve any help and accommodations I might need. Using the word disabled to refer to myself made me feel like I could believe the people who were telling me I was valid. It helped me feel like I could use the accommodations and mobility aids that I need. It gave me a community whereas before I felt like I was alone in it all. It also made me realize that by fighting for my own rights and accommodations, I was helping other people and not being a burden.

I’ve gotten to experience so much disabled joy and I’m grateful for it every time, because it reminds me that I deserve better than the ableism I face every day. It reminds me that a world that is accessible ends up being better for everyone. I remember that there are places where I don’t have to constantly mask and hide my disabilities. And knowing those things gives me the power to keep fighting for rights and speaking up when something’s wrong.

I took a poetry class in school last semester and at the end we each had to perform a poem. I wasn’t really sure which of my poems to share or if there was one I particularly liked. One of my friends who is also a disabled, queer artist randomly told me to join a Zoom room one afternoon. I had no idea what it was going to be, but I figured why not? It was a life drawing session with queer, disabled models. While everyone was drawing, the previous model would talk to the session runner about all sorts of aspects of disability. They had captions and audio descriptions of the models’ poses. I’d been dealing with even more ableism over the previous couple of months than usual and it was like a breath of fresh air to be in a space full of other disabled people, especially one where intersectional identities were welcomed and celebrated. It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever gotten to be a part of. It reminded me how much power there is in a disability identity and the disability community.

After that, I decided that I would write a poem about ableism and disabled joy and perform that at the end of the year. I called out one of my teachers who’d tried to stop me from using my walking stick in it. I performed the poem sitting on the floor because that was what was best for my body. I’m really proud of myself for all of it. I don’t think I would have had the courage or felt like I had the right to do any of it if I didn’t have the view of disability that I do.

To me, disability means power, community, joy, and accommodating people’s differences. It’s not a bad word or something wrong with me to feel ashamed of. It’s an identity that has given me the strength to stand up for and believe in myself.


By Arun

Content warning for r-slur and ableism

Disabled joy is beautiful and unending
But so often locked behind the white clouds of ableism
Caged by your disgust and fear
And guarded by your pity
My teacher tried to steal the joy I found in my walking stick
He told me my mobility aid was “a danger to myself and others”
Demanded that I prove to him I needed to use it
You despise disability
You think my disability makes me less than human
And no one could find joy in being less than human
So disabled joy is abhorrent
You don’t look at us
Pretend we don’t exist
Hide us away
Or if you can’t, try to control us
You suffocate disabled people and burn our joy
Most of the time I play along
I let you be the hero of my story for telling me how to “fix” myself
I lock my disability away and stand up straight so you don’t have to see it
Listen silently while you use lame, deaf, blind, crippled, r******* as jokes and insults
Smile politely while you baby me
I don’t exercise my right to accessible assignments
I thank you for your pity and prayers
And I watch you steal my autonomy the same way you steal my joy
But there are places where your ableism is just a thin mist
Where disabilities are normalized and celebrated
Where disabled bodies are flaunted
Where disability culture is everywhere and everything
Beautiful, human places
My friend’s apartment floor, lying down, playing an accessible game
or watching a movie with actually good audio descriptions
A zoom call with image descriptions and subtitles and ASL interpreters
A life drawing session with queer, disabled models and conversation about representation
They overflow with disabled joy
Disabled joy is beautiful and powerful
Because it stems from the beauty and power of disabled people
You don’t look at us
Pretend we don’t exist
Hide us away
Or if you can’t, try to control us
But I refuse to be dehumanized by your disgust
Or objectified by your hate
I’m done wasting spoons walking the part you want me to
When I could be using them to fight back from the floor