The DO‑IT Trailblazer award highlights DO‑IT community members who forge new pathways that will benefit others. Through their work and accomplishments they have changed the way the world views people with disabilities and have increased the potential of people with disabilities to succeed in college, careers, and community life. Congratulations to this year’s honorees!
2021 DO-IT Trailblazers
Emily Boeschoten, 2015 Scholar and Ambassador, participated in the National Science Foundation’s Young Scholars Program over summer 2016 at the UW Center for Neurotechnology (CNT), where she began working with Center co-director Chet Moritz. Over summers 2018 and 2019, she did undergraduate research with Chet at the Restorative Technologies Laboratory. Chet shared that over these past five years, Emily has enthusiastically shared her rich personal experiences with our doctor of physical therapy students for the past 5 years. Her important messaging, delivered with a robust sense of humor about her challenging diagnosis, has inspired future health care providers to put the patient at the center of all clinical decision-making. She has also engaged deeply in research projects, empathizing with participants and broadening her colleagues understanding of how disability can inspire leadership in powerful ways.
To expand her horizons, Emily joined the University of Oregon Business School’s management consulting group in January 2019. In June 2020, she graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor of science in sociology with departmental honors, Phi Beta Kappa. She was offered the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in Sociology for 2021, but declined due to pandemic-related reasons. She participates in the Disability:IN NextGen program and has recently returned to working in the UW Center for Neurotechnology lab.
Maya Cakmak, a DO-IT collaborator on our work in AccessEngineering, has worked to introduce students with disabilities to robotics. Maya is an associate professor in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science and Engineering at the UW where she directs the Human-Centered Robotics Lab. Her research interests are in human-robot interaction, end-user programming, and assistive robotics. She aims to develop robots that can be programmed and controlled by a diverse group of users with unique needs and preferences to do useful tasks. Over multiple summers, Maya has hosted week-long workshops related to robotics for DO-IT’s Summer Study program. She has also hosted AccessComputing students learning about research in computer science.
Meenakshi Das is a recent graduate of Auburn University who studied computer science. She has been an active member of our AccessComputing program for the last five years, coordinating panels featuring students with disabilities at conferences, participating in conversations on our mailing list, and attending a capacity building institute. In 2017, Meenakshi, along with AccessComputing partner, Dr. Sarah Lee, were awarded a minigrant to facilitate a one-day workshop for students who are visually impaired. Meenakshi has engaged in many activities that benefit the disability community, such as running a Facebook support group for working professionals with disabilities, Working With Disabilities. This group provides a space to discuss ableism, accessibility, and share useful resources with each other.
Grady Thompson, 2015 DO-IT Scholar and Ambassador and former accessibility student assistant for Accessible Technology Services and DO-IT, recently graduated from the University of Washington (UW) with a degree in informatics and a minor in disabilities studies. After graduation, Grady joined DocuSign where he works on digital accessibility in the engineering department. While Grady was at the UW, he interned at Intel in their accessibility office, where he contributed updates to their internal website and helped develop new processes to make Intel’s workplace and products more accessible. As a universal design consultant for the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW) Student Disability Commission, he worked on projects to improve the accessibility of UW’s student government, programs, and activities, including serving on a task force that ultimately led to the creation of a new office of inclusive design within ASUW. Grady has been a student staff member supporting Summer Study for the past two years. Grady also participated in the Disability:IN NextGen Leaders Program where he met his mentor at Intel who mentored him through his internship at Intel.
Previous DO‑IT Trailblazer award winners:
Ather Sharif, a DO-IT AccessComputing team member, for serving as a leader and mentor dedicated to increasing the accessibility of information technology and the full participation of people with disabilities in computing.
Brett Humphrey for his accessibility work with Microsoft and hosting the annual DO-IT Summer Study Microsoft visit for over a decade.
Kat M. Steele, a DO-IT collaborator on our work in AccessEngineering, for her worked to ensure that information about disability, accessibility, and universal design is included in the engineering curriculum at the University of Washington (UW) and beyond.
Ryan Fox, 2009 DO-IT Scholar and Ambassador, for his work as an advocate for people with disabilities. He has ran multiple campaigns and supported initiatives across Washington State supporting people with autism, including the "Different Doesn't Mean Dumb,"and "Wings for Autism," programs, as well as worked with the Washington State Senate Page Program, Washington State Youth Leadership Forum, League of American Orchestras.
Bree Callahan, the ADA/Section 504 coordinator for the University of Washington and former Director of UW Disability Resources for Students, for being a longtime ally of DO-IT participants, collaborator on DO-IT projects, mentor to DO-IT staff, and member of the DO-IT Advisory Board, as well as for her work at UW, within the state, and nationally to examine and remove barriers for students with disabilities transitioning to higher education institutions.
Lee Bassett, a member of the DO-IT Advisory Board, for using his knowledge as a special education professional to help students with disabilities and recruit qualified students from across Washington State to apply to the DO-IT Scholars program.
Vanessa Link, 2014 DO-IT Scholar and now DO-IT Ambassador, for being a leader in the community through her disability advocacy and mentorship of younger Scholars, as well as for all her work with Rooted in Rights designing products for disability rights organizations all over the country.
Dr. Shiri Azenkot, an assistant professor of information science at the Jacobs Technion‑Cornell Institute at Cornell Tech, Cornell University, for her research in accessibility and interaction on new platforms. As a student, Shiri was an active participant in DO-IT programs and has hosted research interns with a variety of disabilities, presented at a capacity building institute, and spoken in our videos.
Courtney Cole, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘13 Scholar, for being a powerful advocate for people with disabilities through her work and personal accomplishments. Courtney joined the Rooted in Rights (RiR) team in 2016 and continues to assist in the production of videos and other media content that cover topics such as the stigma of mental health, violence against people with disabilities, and the inequality that blind students face in Washington and across the country.
Dr. Shaun Kane, an assistant professor in computer science at the University of Colorado Boulder, for directing the Superhuman Computing Lab, which conducts research on accessible user interfaces, mobile and wearable interactions, and tangible computing, as well as his participation in DO-IT programs as a student and is now an AccessComputing partner, where he has hosted an AccessComputing intern in his lab, led computer science workshops at the National Federation for the Blind Youth Slam, and mentored other AccessComputing student participants.
John Kemp, a graduate of the Washburn University School of Law, for his work as a renowned disability rights leader who co-founded the American Association of People with Disabilities and has partnered with, worked for, and served as board member, chair and CEO of leading disability organizations. Kemp has been a role model an ally of DO-IT and other organizations that serve to create a more inclusive world where individuals with disabilities have equal access.
Krista Greear, of the University of Washington Disability Resources for Students office, for going above and beyond in training for accessibility, managing the Access Text & Technology Program and Captioning Program across UW, and promoting accessibility in the UW’s Web Council, the Approaches on Accessibility Interest Group, and the Online Advising Group.
Sean Marihugh, DO-IT Ambassador and ’09 Scholar, for contributing to the accessibility of Microsoft products and arranging corporate visits for DO-IT Scholars and Ambassadors. Sean has presented about IT accessibility and equal access to education at national conferences and has been an active mentor and accessibility instructor in many DO-IT programs.
Leyf Starling, an Upper School faculty member at the Durham Academy and an AccessEngineering partner, works to ensure that students with disabilities have access to K-12 engineering education. Leyf actively recruits new participants to AccessEngineering efforts and ran the Summer Engineering Experience for High School Students with Visual Impairments or Blindness and Inclusion of High School Students with Disabilities in FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Competition Team Activity.
Dr. Sarah Wille is a senior researcher with Outlier Research and Evaluation at the University of Chicago and an AccessCSforAll partner who has worked to ensure that students with disabilities are included through The Computer Science & Students with Learning Differences study, which aims to expand participation in computer science by making Computer Science Principles more accessible for students with learning disabilities and related attention disorders
Cynthia Bennett, an active AccessEngineering, AccessComputing, and AccessSTEM team member, for her research in accessibility, a subarea of human-computer interaction, with a focus on improving the accessibility of the technology design process itself. Cynthia is an active mentor for younger students and shares her knowledge through panel presentations, published work, and informal teaching moments with faculty and staff.
Rick Ells, a senior webmaster for the UW Information Technology unit, for starting the Accessibleweb@u special interest group, which reminds us that campus-based technology should be accessible for students, faculty, and staff with disabilities, and that improving digital accessibility is a long-term process involving many stakeholders.
Michael Reese, Associate Director of Experiential Learning at Bellevue College’s Center for Career Connections, for working with, recruiting, and preparing students with disabilities for the Workforce Recruitment Program. He developed a class to prepare students with disabilities for the workforce and he takes time out of his personal schedule to attend and bring students to events such as the Microsoft Ability Summit.
Jesse Shaver, a DO-IT Ambassador and ‘03 Scholar, as well as an AccessSTEM and AccessComputing team member, for consistently making time to engage in mentoring, student mock interview sessions, and other activities to help students prepare for technical job interviews. Through his efforts, student mentees build confidence and ultimately enter job-seeking activities with purpose and strategy.
Anna Ewing, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘09 Scholar, for her work educating others about the experience of living with an unpredictable disability and for her advocacy efforts regarding the education of individuals with disabilities. Anna helped develop Seattle Central College’s disability studies course, the first of its kind in the Seattle College District.
Kavita Krishnaswamy, a graduate student in computer science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and an AccessComputing team member, for her accomplishments in the application of robotics to increase the independence of people with disabilities. Kavita has pioneered the use of robots to participate in multiple conferences across the country without needing to travel.
Dr. Jonathan Lazar, professor of computer and information sciences and director of the Undergraduate Program in Information Systems at Towson University, for enthusiastic engagement within multiple DO-IT projects that include AccessSTEM, AccessComputing, and AccessEngineering and for encouraging others to engage in these projects and contribute their expertise.
Dr. Daniela Marghitu, a professor in the Computer Science and Software Engineering Department at Auburn University, for her contributions to multiple projects that DO-IT directs or co-directs, including AccessComputing, AccessCS10k, and AccessEngineering. She is the founding director of the Auburn University Educational and Assistive Technology Laboratory and the Co-PI and Technology Coordinator of the Alabama Alliance for Students with Disabilities in STEM.
Brandon Muller, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘01 Scholar, for leadership and dedication to programs that promote the success and full inclusion of youth with disabilities in education and employment. Brandon is a member of the Washington State Governor’s Committee on Disability Issues and Employment, where he acts as a vice chair on the Youth Leadership Forum Planning Committee.
Katie Sullivan, DO-IT Mentor, for mentoring DO-IT participants at Microsoft and engaging in DO-IT’s collaborative Summer Academy for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Computer Science.
Dr. Kelsey Byers, DO-IT Mentor, for her countless presentations on equal access in academics, fieldwork, governance, student events, and other aspects of campus life, and constant advocacy and presence at DO-IT events. She has been active in the broader UW community, making important contributions on several committees, student groups, and other entities that promote access and inclusion for everyone.
Dr. Norm Coombs, chief executive officer of Equal Access to Software and Information, for providing opportunities for others to have access to assistive technology. He pioneered Rochester Institute of Technology’s (RIT’s) distance learning program, received Zenith’s Master of Innovation award for his uses of distance learning to mainstream students with disabilities, and has co-presented with DO-IT at multiple conferences and workshops.
Vincent Martin, AccessComputing team member, for being an active member and mentor on DO-IT’s e-mentoring communities, giving invaluable advice on technical details, complex software/hardware interaction, and accessible technology for postsecondary education.
Myrna Muto, coordinator of Seattle Public Schools counselors, for being an active advocate for high school students with disabilities preparing for college and careers. She has worked with DO-IT to develop and disseminate newsletters, host events, and facilitate trainings and workshops for Seattle Schools educators and staff.
Dr. Bea Awoniyi, long-time DO-IT collaborator, Santa Fe College Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs, and president elect for the Board of Directors of the Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), for her work to better serve students and veterans with disabilities, including substantial contributions to DO-IT resources and the AccessCollege project.
Susan Gjolmesli, director of the Disability Resource Center at Bellevue College, DO-IT Mentor, and project partner, for outstanding advocacy in the promotion of accessible campuses and the development of the Autism Spectrum Navigators Program. She was designated as a Living Treasure at Bellevue College in 2009 and received the Washington State Governor’s Trophy in Memory of Carolyn Blair Brown in 2012.
Anna Marie Golden, founder and manager of AnnAtycal Web Studio, DO-IT Mentor, and part of UW’s Accessible Technology Services team, for outstanding mentoring and her work to increase accessibility on the Internet, including the development of an accessible website for the Deaf-Blind Service Center.
Michael Richardson, co-director of the Northwest ADA (American with Disabilities Act) Center and DO-IT Mentor, for his relentless advocacy and enthusiasm for the participation of people with disabilities in all aspects of our community.
Katrina Carter, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘98 Scholar, for her advocacy in founding a disability student group at UW Bothell; and her work in the National Youth Leadership Network, Think First National Injury Prevention Foundation, National Leadership Conference for Youth with Disabilities, and the Army Corps Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.
Wendy Chisholm, DO-IT Mentor, senior Microsoft strategist, for co-editing the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 and 2.0, which form the basis of most web accessibility policies throughout the world; co-authoring the book Universal Design for Web Applications; and founding Accessibility Camp Seattle.
Dyane Haynes, DO-IT Mentor, DO-IT partner, and director of Disability Resources for students at UW, for her tireless efforts in sharing disability resources and promoting universal design through capacity-building institutes, as well as her work within DO-IT Admin, DO-IT Prof, AccessCollege, and AccessSTEM projects.
Conrad Reynoldson, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘03 Scholar, for his work to raise disability awareness in the community. He was the first person to use a power wheelchair in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle half marathon, has organized comedy nights to increase the visibility of people with disabilities, completed an internship at Disability Rights Washington, and was a congressional intern in Washington, DC.
Laura Bersos, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘04 Scholar, for developing community among DO-IT Scholars and participants. Laura has attended Summer Study every year since she became involved with DO-IT.
Kayla Brown, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘05 Scholar, for advocacy work at Bellevue College and nonprofits. She advocates for people with disabilities in Seattle, traveled to New Orleans to help rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, participated in City Year, and has served on the ATeam leadership group for DO-IT’s AccessSTEM project.
E.A. Draffin, research staff in the University of Southampton’s School of Electronics and Computer Science in the United Kingdom, for promoting accessibility in e-learning, the web, and mobile devices; providing an international database of accessible technology; and supporting students with disabilities to increase accessibility in education, employment, and their daily lives.
Dr. Martha Bosma, associate professor of biology at UW, for her leadership in the inclusion of people with disabilities in science education and careers, outreach to ensure accessible science labs, and mentoring of DO-IT Scholars in their transition to postsecondary education.
Corinna (Lang) Fale, DO-IT Ambassador and ’00 Scholar, for her work promoting self-advocacy for people with disabilities through her position as co-coordinator of the Leadership, Education, Advocacy and Determination (LEAD) Coalition at the Arc of Snohomish County and as a representative for People First of Washington.
Dr. Sang-Mook Lee, professor of geophysics at Seoul National University, for promoting access to technology, education, and employment for people with disabilities in South Korea.
Noah Seidel, DO-IT Ambassador and ’05 Scholar, for his disability advocacy and leadership on the UW campus and in the Seattle community. He has organized disability awareness events and has spoken on numerous panels regarding inclusion, access, and transition to college and careers.
Priscilla Wong, DO-IT Ambassador and ’95 Scholar, for her volunteer work serving people with disabilities at the Ronald McDonald House and Children’s Hospital and ongoing dedication to advocating for accessible programs and environments.
Kim Borowicz, disability rights lawyer at Access Living and DO-IT Mentor, for contributions on to the field of disability law and a commitment to tackling issues of access to transportation, media, and education for people with disabilities.
Loren Mikola, disability inclusion program manager at Microsoft and AccessSTEM team member, for contributions in making Microsoft an inclusive environment for employees with a wide variety of abilities and for promoting the design of accessible technology.
Kris Rosenberg, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘94 Scholar, for contributing to the long-term success of DO-IT’s college preview and technology program at Camp Courage by providing lab and technology support, instruction, and mentoring.
Jessie Sandoval, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘98 Scholar, for academic achievement and pursuit of a career in disability law.
Chris Schlechty, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘02 Scholar, for academic achievement, pursuit of a career in computing, and mentoring interns with disabilities in the workplace nationwide.
Dr. Mamoru Iwabuchi, associate professor at the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at the University of Tokyo and assistant director of DO-IT Japan, for promoting DO-IT practices internationally.
Al Souma, coordinator of Disability Support Services at Seattle Central Community College and AccessCollege team member, for responding to emerging issues of students with disabilities, including those related to people with mental health impairments and veterans with disabilities.
Daman Wandke, DO-IT Ambassador and ‘05 Scholar, for leadership in organizing disability awareness activities on a postsecondary campus.
Anthony Arnold, DO‑IT Ambassador and ‘94 Scholar, for significant contributions to the field of augmentative and alternative communication through his advocacy and career, and serving as a powerful role model for the employment of individuals with disabilities that affect both mobility and speech.
Dr. Ray Bowen, while Dean of the UW College of Engineering, made contacts at the National Science Foundation in 1992 that led to DO‑IT’s first grant funding. He mentored DO-IT founder and director Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler and facilitated collaborations with the college’s programs for women and minorities. This created an expanded view of diversity that became a model for other departments and institutions.
Dennis Lang, associate director of the disability studies program at UW, for promoting the adoption of a disability studies program which now resides in the School of Law. He has also mentored dozens of students pursuing the disability studies minor.
Dr. Imke Durre, DO‑IT Mentor, for accomplishments in earning a Ph.D. and pursuing a career in atmospheric sciences, increasing public awareness of the positive contributions of people with disabilities in science fields, and providing a strong role model and mentoring to students with visual impairments.
Julie Peddy, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration program manager, for accomplishments in integrating youth with disabilities in service learning programs and promoting the employment of people with disabilities in science fields.
Karen Braitmayer, architect and DO‑IT Mentor, for accomplishments as a business owner and for progressing accessibility efforts within the field of architecture.
Mylene Padolina, Microsoft senior diversity consultant, for accomplishments in the integration of disability in the diversity efforts of businesses and for success in programs encouraging youth to pursue high-tech career fields.
Jessie Shulman, DO‑IT Ambassador and ‘98 Scholar, for accomplishments in increasing access and support on the UW campus and providing a strong role model to students with hidden disabilities.
Dr. Suzanne Weghorst, assistant director for research at the UW Human Interface Technology Lab, for accomplishments in research and for providing numerous opportunities for students with disabilities to explore the field of human interface technology.
Cheri Blauwet, DO‑IT Ambassador, ‘96 Scholar, and Stanford graduate student, for achievements in athletics and academics.
Mike Dedman, education specialist at the National Parks Service, for improving access in the national parks.
Charity Ranger, DO‑IT student staff and UW student, for improving access and support on a postsecondary campus.
Anna Schneider, DO‑IT Ambassador, ‘93 Scholar, artist, businesswoman, and UW graduate, for accomplishments in the combination of fine arts, business, and science.