Annual Report 1994-1995


Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, & Technology

Director: Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph. D.
University of Washington

Message from the Director

In 1992, the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded a three-year University of Washington project whose goal is to increase the representation of people with disabilities in science, engineering, and mathematics fields. The project began on October 1 and DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) was selected as the working title. The long-term outcome of DO-IT and similar projects will be to increase the number of individuals with disabilities in these professions.

Third year DO-IT activities continued the programs developed in years one and two, and focused on college transition and employment for people with disabilities. Internet, mentoring, and college transition activities were transported to another site - Camp Courage in Minnesota. Peer mentoring relationships strengthened as more Scholars became Ambassadors, attended college, and offered advice to younger Scholars. Year three also saw more Scholars and Ambassadors participating in internships and other work experiences. The DO-IT electronic community increased participation on discussion lists and developed new electronic resources, including a DO-IT World Wide Web home page. Development and distribution of two new videotapes helped more people learn about the power of adaptive technology and computers, and how to accommodate students with disabilities in science. Information dissemination efforts escalated to increase the impact of DO-IT efforts.

DO-IT was honored for its achievements in education by winning:

  • The 1995 National Information Infrastructure Award in education for creative use of the Internet to improve education.
  • The 1995 Organization Award from the Washington Association on Post Secondary Education and Disability (WAPED) for "an outstanding record of service to people with disabilities in higher education."
  • A 1995 Community Partnership award from the King County Vocational/Special Education Cooperative for exemplary work in developing the careers of youths with disabilities in cooperation with schools. >
  • Recognition by the Association for Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) for the videotape, Working Together: Faculty and Students with Disabilities.

DO-IT is fortunate to have received continued support for another three years from the National Science Foundation and other funding sources to continue to promote equal academic and career opportunities for people with disabilities.

Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D. 
Director, DO-IT 
College of Engineering/Computing & Communications 
University of Washington

Problem Addressed

Individuals with disabilities are underrepresented in science, engineering, and mathematics academic programs and careers. Few enter these fields and those who do experience high dropout rates.

Causes of this problem include:

  1. Individuals with disabilities lack regular access to role models who have disabilities and are successful in educational programs and/or careers in science, engineering, and mathematics. Potential role models are often separated by great distances, leaving individuals with disabilities isolated from those who have faced and/or are facing similar challenges in school and work.
  2. High school and college students with disabilities, counselors, social service agency staff, and special education teachers often lack an understanding of the content and requirements of science, engineering, and mathematics programs in higher education; they do not encourage students with disabilities to prepare for these fields; and are unfamiliar with the resources available to assist students with disabilities.
  3. There are inadequate resources and coordination of services provided for students with disabilities on post-secondary campuses.
  4. Lab facilities and computers are often not accessible to students who have disabilities.
  5. Faculty lack information about the rights, needs, and potential contributions of students with disabilities and often have negative attitudes about including them in their academic programs.

DO-IT Goals and Objectives

The goals of DO-IT are:

  1. To recruit students with disabilities into science, engineering, and mathematics programs and careers.
  2. To retain students with disabilities in science, engineering, and mathematics programs and careers.
  3. To act as a catalyst and resource for other institutions of higher education in their efforts to recruit and retain students with disabilities in science, engineering, and mathematics.

DO-IT has developed the following objectives for reaching these goals:

  1. To help students with disabilities learn how they can use computers, electronic communications, and Internet resources to increase their independence and productivity while pursuing academic programs and careers in science, engineering, and mathematics; to promote the use of technology as an accommodation for individuals with disabilities in these fields.
  2. To encourage students with disabilities to take computing, mathematics, and science classes in high school and college, moving toward careers in science, engineering, and mathematics.
  3. To facilitate communication between high school and college students with disabilities and Mentors who are accomplished students and professionals with disabilities in science, engineering, mathematics, and other fields.
  4. To empower individuals with disabilities by providing them with opportunities to apply their skills in efforts to recruit and retain individuals with disabilities into science, engineering, and mathematics academic programs and careers.
  5. To promote the inclusion of people with disabilities in science, engineering, and mathematics academic programs and careers, and the creation of positive learning, working, and social environments by improving access to labs, programs, special services, and adaptive technology, and improving attitudes towards individuals with disabilities.
  6. To decrease the physical barriers to science, engineering, and mathematics classrooms and laboratories for students with disabilities by assessing, documenting, recommending, and implementing modifications.
  7. To increase understanding of factors that contribute to the under representation of individuals with disabilities in science, engineering, and mathematics academic programs and careers; identify factors that increase the chances for success; use this information to formulate future project activities; and disseminate this information to help others address this issue.

To meet these objectives, the following programs and activities were established. They are described and their impacts are summarized in the remaining sections of this report.

DO-IT Scholars and Ambassadors


The DO-IT Scholars program helps high school students with disabilities prepare for academic study and careers in science, engineering, and mathematics. DO-IT Scholars increase their knowledge and gain prerequisite experience to enter these fields of study and employment; are encouraged and supported by successful students and professionals with disabilities; learn to use technology to become more independent and productive; and are given transitional college experiences. The DO-IT Scholars program consists of three phases. Admissions to Phases II and III are based upon successful completion of previous phases and a desire to continue participation as a DO-IT Scholar. Following graduation from high school, Phase III Scholars may continue participation as DO-IT Ambassadors by contributing their efforts in support of program goals.

The DO-IT Advisory Board selected twenty participants to begin the DO-IT Scholars program in 1995. DO-IT Scholars were selected based on their interests and aptitudes in science, engineering, and mathematics; their motivation to participate in the program; and their anticipated benefit from the program relative to other applicants. Additionally, eighteen and fifteen Scholars completed Phases II and III of the program, respectively. Twenty-one participants graduated from high school in 1994 and 1995 and, as a result, assumed DO-IT Ambassador status. See the charts below for a summary of Scholar and Ambassador characteristics.

1994-5 Phase I Scholars

Schools: 17 public high school, 3 home school 
Location: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota 
Gender: 7 female, 13 male 
Ethnicity: 17 Caucasian, 1 Chinese, 1 Filipino, 1 Native American
Disabilities (note: some participants have multiple disabilities):
Blindness: 1
Low Vision: 1
Mobility/Orthopedic Impairment: 10
Health Impairment: 5
Attention Deficit Disorder: 1
Hearing Impairment: 3
Speech Impairment: 2
Specific Learning Disability: 2
Brain Injury: 1

1994-5 Phase II Scholars (enrolled in high school)

Schools: 12 public high school 
Location: Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, and North Dakota 
Gender: 6 female, 6 male 
Ethnicity: 11 Caucasian, 1 Vietnamese
Disabilities (note: some participants have multiple disabilities):
Blindness: 1
Low Vision: 1
Mobility/Orthopedic Impairment: 7
Health Impairment: 2
Attention Deficit Disorder: 1
Hearing Impairment: 1
Speech Impairment: 2
Specific Learning Disability: 4
Brain Injury: 1

1994-5 Ambassadors (graduated from high school)

College: 7 Community College, 10 4-year college, 2 school for the blind, 1 working, 1 post-secondary prep program 
Work Experience: 14 
Location: Washington, Utah, Montana, Oregon, and Idaho 
Gender: 8 female, 13 male 
Ethnicity: 15 Caucasian, 1 Native American, 1 Hispanic, 1 Pakistani, 1 Japanese, 1 Vietnamese, 1 Filipino
Disabilities (note: some participants have multiple disabilities):
Blindness: 4
Low Vision: 2
Mobility/Orthopedic Impairment: 9
Health Impairment: 7
Attention Deficit Disorder: 1
Hearing Impairment: 2
Speech Impairment: 3
Specific Learning Disability: 2
Brain Injury: 1

Phase I Scholar Activities

Phase I Scholars participated in the following activities:


As applicants were accepted into the program, appropriate computer and adaptive technologies were selected and set up in their homes. Local Internet connections were made through partner post-secondary schools, K-12 consortiums, commercial service providers, and other organizations. Students and their families received in-home training on the use of the technology, electronic mail, and Internet resources. As each participant was brought online, Mentors (see below) and veteran Scholars welcomed them to the program. In addition, they regularly sent electronic mail to the participants that included specially created lessons on electronic mail and the Internet, as well as useful information about DO-IT, college, careers, science, engineering, and mathematics. Scholars learned how to access information on the Internet and communicate electronically with others to explore their academic and career interests.


DO-IT Mentors are college students, professionals, and volunteers, most with disabilities themselves. Through electronic communications, personal meetings, and joint projects using the Internet, Mentors work to facilitate academic, career, and personal success among DO-IT Scholars and Ambassadors. DO-IT Mentors study and/or work in a variety of fields including computer programming, communications engineering, disability support services, chemistry, research engineering, pre-college education, post-secondary education, statistics, engineering, computer science, computer consulting, adaptive technology, and biology. DO-IT staff and summer faculty are also available as Mentors. In addition to guiding Scholars, Mentors contribute regularly to DO-IT project ideas and implementation and benefit from sharing experiences with one another.

With permission from Mentors and Scholars the contents of their electronic communications have been coded in order to summarize the general nature of their interactions. More than 20,000 messages were collected over the three years of the project, approximately 10,500 of which occurred during the third year. Scholars and Mentors sent private messages or participated in group forums to ask questions and discuss science topics, disability-related issues, college transition skills, career choices, and more. Preliminary findings suggest that electronic communications have allowed Scholars to develop strong peer relationships, attain valuable information from other Scholars and Mentors, and find support and encouragement as members of a lively, online community.

Summer Study 

To explore their science, engineering, and mathematics interests and help prepare for transitions to college, DO-IT Phase I Scholars experienced life as college students during a two-week, live-in summer program held on the Seattle campus of the University of Washington in August of 1995. Each Scholar studied science, engineering, and mathematics by participating in lectures and labs and using computer applications and educational software, electronic mail, and resources on the Internet network. Subjects studied included heart surgery; virtual reality; adaptive technology; geophysics; medical engineering; software applications; climatology; computer science; chemistry; environmental studies; genetics; education and technology; and design engineering. In addition, Scholars participated in a series of presentations, discussions, and activities on transitioning to college. All Scholars were given the opportunity to contribute to the development of a college transition videotape by making suggestions for content and/or starring in the film. Accommodations were made in each activity to ensure that all participants remained as active and as independent as possible.

Phase II Scholar Activities

Phase II Scholars continued their Internetworking activities as well as:

Individual Projects and Work Experiences 

Phase II Scholars designed, completed, and presented science projects based on their individual interests. Several gained work experiences through jobs, internships, or volunteer positions. DO-IT Mentors and staff provided resources and assistance for Scholars in planning and completing their projects, which included working as an Internet and Technology coordinator for a high school; computer programming; gravitation simulation incorporating the use of Newtonian Mechanics; Artificial Intelligence, optical recognition; improving disability awareness on a college campus; an architecture study; presentations to NSF about experiences in DO-IT; participation in UW Computer Fair and Closing the Gap conferences; engineering layout of PVC pipe on a farm; and building and demonstrating an electronic race car. Each Phase II Scholar presented his/her project to Phase I Scholars, DO-IT Mentors and staff, and faculty during the summer study programs.

Peer Mentoring 

In addition to continuing electronic communications with each other and Mentors, Phase II Scholars practiced and developed communication and leadership skills as peer mentors for Phase I participants, face-to-face during the summer study program, and electronically throughout the year. All DO-IT Scholars were invited to communicate with patients at Children's Hospital in Seattle, and with participants in Camp Courage (see DO-IT Campers below) through electronic mail accounts established by DO-IT.

Summer Study 

Phase II Scholars returned to the UW campus for a one-week summer program which overlaps with the Phase I program. Participants developed their skills and interests gained in the previous year by working on group science projects with faculty and other professionals. Project topics included World Wide Web home page development, genetics research, technical communication, and a computer research project. Phase II Scholars reported on their joint projects on the last day of the summer study program.

Throughout the year DO-IT Scholars were invited to participate in other special events including those described in the "Exhibits, Demonstrations, Presentations, Events, Conferences" section of this report as well as programs open only to the Scholars.

Phase III Scholar and Ambassador Activities

Phase III Scholars and Ambassadors continued their Internetworking activities as well as:

Individual Projects 

Phase III Scholars and Ambassadors expanded their scope of individual projects to include more work experiences. Efforts by staff and participants were made to help Scholars and Ambassadors attain these paid or volunteer work experiences: an internship with Washington State University branch campus Tree Fruit Research Center; work on DO-IT gopher and World Wide Web servers; internships with Battelle Labs; editing DO-IT News; work as an assistant in UW adaptive technology lab, an intern at Microsoft, and student helpers at Camp Courage; an internship with the NASA space grant program; an accounting internship at the UW campus; designing an optical character recognition device; work as a computer programmer; work as assistant secretary in Special Services Office of Kennewick School District; software development for a self-owned business; work as a security guard; and serving on a campus disability access committee. DO-IT Ambassadors were also invited to apply to work as interns during the 1995 summer study program. Six Ambassadors were selected to greet new participants, deliver presentations and participate on panels, and assist staff with program activities. Another helped with college transition presentations and activities in addition to mentoring the new Scholars.

Peer Mentoring 

Phase III Scholars and Ambassadors continued to develop communication and leadership skills as peer mentors for the younger participants. Scholars and Ambassadors were invited to communicate with patients at Children's Hospital in Seattle and participants at Camp Courage (see below) by electronic mail.

After completion of the 1995 summer study program, all Scholars and Ambassadors enthusiastically agreed to continue in the DO-IT project. Phase I Scholars moved on to Phase II status. Those Scholars who continued to Phase III or became Ambassadors will continue to be given opportunities to contribute to the DO-IT program through activities agreed to by each participant and DO-IT staff. Opportunities include mentoring, creating and delivering DO-IT presentations, collecting scientific resources, documenting access barriers, administrating systems, editing the newsletter, and working in summer study programs and other DO-IT sponsored events. The seventeen Scholars who graduated from high school in 1995 graduated to "DO-IT Ambassador" status and joined the four Ambassadors from 1994. Ambassadors continue to gain leadership, academic, and job skills as they help others.


With the addition of twenty new students in 1995, a total of fifty-six high school students with disabilities have directly benefited from the DO-IT Scholars program during the first three years of DO-IT. In addition, more than fifty volunteers were recruited to participate as DO-IT Mentors. Indications of the success of the program can be found in the following comments by several Scholars and parents of Scholars and in the Scholar achievements listed below.

  • "I learned so much about people, not just ones with disabilities. I also learned a lot about how to plan for my future, in college, and life in general. I just learned a lot about how important it is to make connections and meet people who can help you with information. I also learned more about some different types of careers that are available. I can't write everything that I learned, it would take too long!" (Scholar)
  • "I learned that the U of W has a great DSS office. I also learned that although disabilities can slow you down sometimes, you can still accomplish what you want to do." (Scholar)
  • "I learned I want to be a nurse when I get older." (Scholar)
  • "I really liked the genetics workshop, because those are similar to the type of career I want." (Scholar)
  • "I got to experience labs that I had read about but never done." (Scholar)
  • "My daughter learned to accept her disability and to be an advocate for herself. She has a strong support system in the DO-IT Scholars and has made lasting friendships." (Parent of Scholar)
  • "[Scholar's name] has a wider horizon. He believes that he can do what he wants to with his life and has a far better idea of what that is. He knows he'll have to work harder. He also knows he will not be happy in a boring, right out of high school job, nor will he be happy w/o his computer and tools etc. He has been researching careers and schools." (Parent of Scholar)
  • "DO-IT has opened up a whole new world for my child. The most noticeable impact has been social skills, self esteem, and self advocacy skills. My child has gone from a very shy person, to a person involved in very many things now. DO-IT has given her the opportunities to be a very self sufficient young adult." (Parent of Scholar)
  • "Our son came home from DO-IT pumped! HE was already on the threshold of enthusiasm and excitement about school and his future, but at DO-IT he learned that these things weren't just pipe dreams but real possibilities. The positive approach to life shared by the DO-IT Scholars still lingers in our son." (Parent of Scholar)

Scholar and Ambassador success stories reflect their interests in science, engineering, and mathematics; college and career preparation; and empowerment of people with disabilities. Listed below are some of the achievements of DO-IT Scholars during the first three years of the program.

  • Of the 21 Scholars who have graduated from high school, 19 are in college with the following majors: 8 in general science, 1 in chemical engineering, 1 in electrical engineering, 3 in computer science, 1 in medical engineering, 2 in genetics, 2 in micro/cellular or molecular biology, and 1 in pre-med. One Scholar pursued post-secondary studies in programming and is currently working. Another is taking additional high school courses to prepare for college.
  • One Scholar serves as the Adaptive Technology Advisor on his college campus.
  • One Scholar received first place in a State Business Professionals of America Convention for his computer program.
  • One Scholar presented World Wide Web home page lessons to instructors at the UW.
  • A DO-IT Scholar won a NASA Space Grant four-year scholarship to the University of Washington.
  • A DO-IT Scholar won an honor for his essay about the Internet in a national contest sponsored by the National Science Foundation, National Center for Education Statistics, and NASA.
  • A DO-IT Scholar was invited to speak at Washington state Governor Mike Lowry's Technology Conference.
  • Two DO-IT Scholars planned and organized a field trip for Scholars and other students with disabilities to Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratories in Richland, Washington; two Scholars earned a paid summer internship at Battelle Labs.
  • DO-IT Scholars and Mentors appeared on two radio shows, on one television show, in six conference presentations and in two conference exhibits about adaptive technologies, and academic programs and careers in science, engineering, and mathematics.
  • Several Scholars have been invited to participate on their campus accessibility planning committees.
  • Most Scholars have written articles for DO-IT news, the project newsletter.
  • Each year, Summer Study participants help determine the content of a videotape and printed materials that can be used to help other students with disabilities successfully transition to post-secondary education and careers in science, engineering, and mathematics. Videotapes created with input from Scholars focused on Scholar recruitment, computer/Internet access, science accommodations, and transition to college.
  • Most Scholars have participated in at least one work or volunteer experience during their participation in DO-IT.

DO-IT Campers


In the summer of 1995, DO-IT made its first attempt to transport some of its Internet and college preparation activities to a different setting. DO-IT co-sponsored a college preview, science exploration, and Internet session at Camp Courage, a summer program for teenagers with physical disabilities in Maple Lake, MN. Fourteen campers attended. The characteristics of the DO-IT campers are summarized in the following chart:

1995 DO-IT Campers

Location: Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wisconsin 
Gender: 4 Female, 10 Male 
Ethnicity: 13 Caucasian, 1 Indian 
Disabilities (note: some participants have multiple disabilities):
Blindness: 1
Speech Impairment: 4
Mobility/Orthopedic Impairment: 13

The DO-IT Director was the coordinator and primary instructor. A DO-IT Ambassador with a mobility impairment worked as a paid lab assistant and a DO-IT Scholar with cerebral palsy acted as a student helper. A local high school computer teacher provided technical support and some instruction. Campers enjoyed the Internet, a field trip to St. Cloud State University (including a presentation by the disabled services staff, a tour of an accessible dorm room, lunch in the cafeteria, a lecture from a faculty member, and a visit to a multi-media laboratory); guest speakers on college admissions, faculty interaction, and employment strategies; and college transition and science exercises on the Internet. DO-IT Scholars, Ambassadors, and Mentors communicated with the Camp Courage participants throughout the camp session, and some continued their friendships after the program.


Through hands-on experiences, fourteen campers learned about the Internet as a communication and information tool, college life, and college/employment transition strategies during the third year of the DO-IT project.

College Transition Workshops


K-12 students with disabilities; parents; special education, science, and mathematics teachers; counselors; and service providers attended free one-day seminars to discuss college transition issues and key factors for succeeding in college. Participants learned about financial aid and scholarship opportunities, self-advocacy skills, campus resources, and how adaptive technology, computers, and network access can help individuals with disabilities succeed in academic programs and careers. Participants were given informational brochures covering adaptive technology, financial aid, campus services, the Internet, disability resources, and transition strategies.


Project efforts directly impacted approximately 60 people in year 3, for a total of 150 participants in the first three years of the project; dissemination efforts have extended the impact to hundreds more. Several comments from workshop attendees document overall impressions:

  • "Very helpful overview of a full range of issues. Especially helpful opportunity to meet other students/professionals who have worked through these issues." (Service Provider)
  • "Overall -- Great. I'll encourage youth and staff to attend future workshops." (Service Provider)
  • "Very informative with great resource info! Thanks." (Service Provider)

Disability Awareness Presentation and Materials for Faculty


DO-IT staff delivered disability awareness presentations to UW faculty and staff members during the first three years of DO-IT. The purpose of the presentations is to increase the awareness of the potential and needs of students with disabilities, and to provide creative and practical approaches for ensuring their access to educational opportunities. Audiences were shown a videotape and given an informational brochure which lists legal requirements for accommodating students with disabilities, examples of accommodations, specific suggestions for faculty, and campus resources. The 9-minute videotape, Working Together: Faculty and Students with Disabilities, was funded by a grant and in-kind contributions from U.S. West Communications. It introduces the viewer to faculty and post-secondary students with disabilities demonstrating successful techniques (using computers, adaptive technology, networks, and other accommodations) that allow the students to participate more productively and independently in science, engineering, and mathematics academic programs and careers. The material in this videotape is presented in such a way that it can be used by other campuses in their own disability awareness presentations. Funds from NEC Foundation of America helped develop and distribute the workshop materials, including the videotape, to over 2,500 college deans, offices of disabled student services, and service providers on college campuses throughout the United States. DO-IT also gave permission for the materials to be duplicated and distributed to all college campuses in Australia.


Disability Awareness presentations were delivered to a total of 300 UW faculty and staff members during the first three years of project DO-IT. Hundreds more faculty and staff were reached through conference presentations. Feedback gathered from the audiences was used to develop a comprehensive presentation packet, Working Together: Faculty and Students with Disabilities. This packet was distributed to more than 2,500 post-secondary directors of disabled student services, engineering deans, and service organizations (in 1995) as well as 180 deans, directors, and chairs of departments at the UW. Feedback from those who received the packets indicate that the product addresses a specific campus need, and suggested that the materials will be used widely for faculty awareness presentations across the country.

Listed below are comments from several recipients of the materials:

  • "...the video made me aware of many wonderful technological aids for the different disabilities. I am truly impressed!!" (Testing Coordinator)
  • "...good way of showing how adaptive technology is beneficial to students with disabilities giving them resources they didn't have before."(Disabled Student Advisor)
  • "My staff and I are very impressed with the package and look forward to developing a program early in the fall semester for our faculty based on the information you sent. Thanks so much for sharing!" (Dean, College of Engineering)

Adaptive Technology Seminars


A special hands-on workshop for individuals with visual impairments and tours of the UW Adaptive Technology Lab were offered on a regular basis during all three years of project DO-IT. In addition, in years two and three of the project, a half-day workshop was created and delivered to students, faculty, staff, parents, and off-campus service providers who wished to learn more about adaptive technology. Emphasis during presentations is given to adaptive technology that can be used by individuals with disabilities to access computers, network resources, and scientific equipment. Hands-on experiences; ideas for making lectures, laboratories, and resources more accessible; and useful handouts were delivered as part of each workshop. A videotape, Working Together: Students with Disabilities and Computer Technology, was created to demonstrate the use of computers, adaptive technology, and the Internet by students with disabilities. It features DO-IT Scholars and Ambassadors demonstrating computer equipment and adaptive technology, and accessing Internet resources.


During the first three years of DO-IT, adaptive technology seminars reached approximately 200 individuals (50 during year three), many of whom are on-campus program managers and off-campus service providers who may also share information with their staff and with their clients who have disabilities. In addition, a publication developed for this workshop, which provides an overview of adaptive technologies, was distributed to over 17,000 individuals and organizations at conferences and through mailings. This overview was also printed in a national publication and distributed via the Internet, reaching thousands of people. Further impact has resulted from dissemination of copies of a videotape, Working Together: People with Disabilities and Computer Technology, in addition to printed and electronic materials, to other campuses during the third year of the project. Several viewer comments are listed below:

  • "It was very informative regarding the various disabilities and how computer technology can assist them in meeting their educational goals." (Service Provider)
  • "The video made me aware of many wonderful technological aids for the different disabilities. I am truly impressed!!" (College Administrator)

Campus Program Access


UW students with disabilities were surveyed in order to document access barriers faced by students with disabilities. Survey results were forwarded to the UW Standing Access Committee, and specific physical access requests by students were added to the committee's project list. DO-IT staff have begun the process of reviewing computer, science, and engineering labs regarding access issues. Specific problems with labs are being recorded. DO-IT staff are developing checklists that will help lab operators make their facilities more accessible. The lists will include suggestions for making scientific equipment, facilities, documentation, computers, and networks accessible to individuals with disabilities. Project staff will meet with lab staff to review the guidelines and help suggest and implement improvements in the next year of the project.

Two discussion lists were established on the Internet network to facilitate communication between students with disabilities and campus units that provide access services. is for University of Washington students with disabilities and includes campus units that deal with access issues. In addition, facilitates communication between UW units that offer outreach programs to precollege students.


DO-IT activities during its first three years have increased the awareness of the computing resources available at the Adaptive Technology Lab on the University of Washington campus, thereby increasing its impact on the success of students with disabilities. Adaptive technology purchased for the DO-IT summer program is made available to campus users during the school year, thereby enhancing the existing facility. Electronic discussion lists have facilitated communication between students with disabilities, campus units, and K-12 outreach programs. Results from the student survey administered by DO-IT were used to identify access problems and were presented to a campus access committee.

DO-IT Conference


A DO-IT mini-conference took place during the University of Washington's 21st Annual Computer Fair. Co-sponsoring the conference with the UW Computer Fair maximized the number of drop-in attendees (as the Computer Fair attracts more than 16,000 attendees) and provided an educational setting for conference participants interested in technological exhibits beyond the conference offerings.

The theme for the 1995 Computer Fair was Teaching and Technology . The conference consisted of seven seminars followed by a reception open to all participants. Seminars included Technology Opens Career Doors , College Transition , College Success , Adaptive Technologies , Access to Assistive Technologies, Just DO-IT! , and A Learning Community: Individuals with Disabilities on the Net . The facility used for the conference was accessible to people with disabilities and included sign language interpreters, materials in other formats, and other accommodations. DO-IT also sponsored an adaptive technology booth, as part of the UW Computer Fair exhibit area, which included printed materials, videotape presentations, and product demonstrations. DO-IT Mentors, Scholars, and Ambassadors worked in the booth.

DO-IT staff mailed brochures describing the conference to over two thousand Washington, Oregon, and Idaho addresses in the DO-IT database. Conference announcements were made on doitsem , easi , uwada , k12out , kidsphere , k12wa , and other electronic discussion lists, as well as through regular UW Computer Fair mailings to more than 80,000 individuals and organizations.


Approximately five hundred people attended the DO-IT mini-conference presentations. Participants included high school and college students with disabilities, parents, teachers, service providers, education administrators, and other interested individuals. More than 1,000 people acquired information from the DO-IT booth and observed demonstrations of videotapes. Five DO-IT Scholars and three DO-IT Mentors participated in the seminars and helped with the booth. At the end of each seminar, attendees were invited to evaluate the presentation by completing a written survey. Overall ratings of the seminars were very positive. Most respondents agreed they had gained useful information about the specific seminar contents and felt that the seminar leaders were well-prepared. Participants repeatedly expressed pleasure in listening to the personal experiences of the presenters, many of whom have disabilities. Comments from attendees include:

  • "I enjoyed hearing first-hand from (Scholar) her experiences and opinions."
  • "The speakers were excellent and informative."
  • "[The best parts of the seminar were] hearing the stories of disabilities overcome, understanding that help is available and getting better."

Outreach Materials

Distribution of electronic, videotaped, and printed materials have resulted in thousands of people with disabilities, service providers, educators, and employers learning about disability-related issues.

Electronic Resources


Electronic tools on the Internet have allowed DO-IT to reach a large and growing audience world-wide. During the third year of the project, a DO-IT World Wide Web home page was added to the DO-IT collection of electronic resources and is used to disseminate most DO-IT publications and provide links to other disability-related sites. An electronic list continues to be used to distribute DO-IT newsletters and other publications. Discussion lists for Mentors and Scholars facilitate group discussions. Distribution lists encourage communication between students with disabilities at the UW and between campus units who provide services to students with disabilities, and provide a central electronic mail address where individuals can seek and discuss information about disability-related issues. An electronic Gopher server continues to provide program and disability-related information.


It is estimated that discussion lists, the DO-IT Gopher server, the DO-IT World Wide Web page, and DO-IT resources offered through other servers, have reached more than 50,000 individuals world-wide.



DO-IT Scholars, Ambassadors, and Mentors have been actively involved in the creation of five videotapes. They are also the "stars" of the videotapes, sharing what they have learned in DO-IT about the use of technologies; science, engineering, and mathematics; and accommodations for individuals with disabilities. The following five videotapes resulted from DO-IT efforts during the first three years.

DO-IT Scholars features high school students with disabilities participating in DO-IT activities and is used for recruitment and project information dissemination. It features DO-IT Scholars, parents, personal assistants, and faculty.

Working Together: Faculty and Students with Disabilities, created with supplemental funding by U.S. West Communications and the NEC Foundation of America, is used in disability awareness workshops for faculty and staff on college campuses. It is available with a short brochure or with a comprehensive presentation package.

Working Together: People with Disabilities and Computer Technology shows how computers and networks can empower individuals with disabilities. DO-IT Scholars and Ambassadors demonstrate the systems they use in DO-IT. An accompanying brochure demonstrates types of adaptive technologies and a Meet the Speakers handout tells more about the Scholars and Ambassadors.

Working Together: Science Teachers and Students with Disabilities helps science teachers accommodate students with disabilities in their classes. DO-IT Scholars and Ambassadors talk about their experiences and give advice to science teachers. Footage from science, mathematics, and engineering labs during the DO-IT Scholar Summer Study sessions is featured. An accompanying brochure summarizes the videotape content. A Meet The Speakers handout also features Scholars and Ambassadors.

College: You can do it! features college students with disabilities and staff of college career and disabled student services offices sharing advice for success in college and employment. An accompanying brochure summarizes the videotape content. A Meet the Speakers handout provides information about the participants in the video.

Through careful scripting and open captioning, all videotapes are made accessible to individuals with disabilities. Each tape has an accompanying informative publication. Videotapes are used in conference presentations and exhibits, distributed freely to key dissemination contacts, and made available to others at cost. Permission to copy materials for non-commercial purposes is granted.


During the first three years of DO-IT, over 2,000 copies of DO-IT Scholars were distributed to potential applicants, parents, educators, and service providers. Over 3,000 copies of Working Together: Faculty and Students with Disabilities packets were distributed to faculty and staff on college campuses, including campuses in Australia, during the third year of DO-IT. In the last year of the project, approximately 4,000 copies of Working Together: People with Disabilities and Computers were distributed to conference participants at Computer Technology Center (CTC), Closing the Gap (CTG), Northwest Council of Computers in Education (NCCE), California State University - Northridge (CSUN), Washington Technology Access Center (WTAC), and the UW Computer Fair. Additionally, over 100 Working Together: Science Teachers and Students with Disabilities videotapes were distributed to teachers, service providers, and other interested individuals. All videotapes have been aired on UWTV (for a total of 36 times), a regional cable television channel that serves 450,000 households, and presented at many conferences (see below). Videotape creation projects have also had a positive impact on DO-IT Scholars and Ambassadors, providing them with opportunities to develop leadership and presentation skills as they share their experiences with others.

Representatives from Offices of Disabled Student Services, technology specialists, deans of colleges, and other service providers commented on the high quality of the materials and indicated they intended to include information from the materials in their own or other staff members' presentations. Following are a few of their comments:

  • "Great! It's wonderful that someone has condensed a lot of material into a clear and concise presentation. This will be very beneficial in training faculty and staff how to assist students with disabilities. Thanks so much." (Counselor for Students with Disabilities)
  • "Empowering for people with disabilities..." (Psychologist)
  • "FANTASTIC! I think it is a well thought-out presentation. It is beautifully presented and simple and straightforward." (Coordinator of Services for the Disabled)

Printed Publications


Through printed publications, the DO-IT program communicates program information to key individuals and organizations. Methods and materials developed by DO-IT are shared with others to be used as examples for those who wish to develop similar programs and materials.


Dissemination activities thus far have included the distribution of the following printed materials:

  • More than 4,500 application packets with program information in a variety of forms, including Braille and large print. 
  • More than 150 press releases distributed to news media and organizations; thousands distributed over the Internet via the DO-IT WWW home page and gopher server, and several distribution lists. 
  • Ten DO-IT NEWS newsletters, each distributed to a mailing list of over 2,900 individuals and organizations plus several thousand copies in electronic form. 
  • Over 75 articles about DO-IT and disability, science, engineering, and mathematics topics have appeared in the media including Able Informer; ADVANCE for Occupational Therapists; ASEE Prism; Bridges; C&C Guide; Changes; Closing the Gap; Diversity/Careers in Engineering and Information Technology; EE Alumni Newsletter; Education News; EDUTECH; Exceptional Parent Magazine; HEATH Guide to Post-secondary Education for Adults; Highline Times; Idaho World; Information Technology and Disability; Learning and Leading with Technology; Odyssey Magazine; PT Bulletin; RTA Online; Science; Skanner; Spokesman Review; Technology Review; The Heller Report; The Journal American; The Morning News Tribune; The Daily Olympian; The Seattle Post-Intelligencer; The Seattle Times; The Spokesman Review; The Trend in Engineering; Time; Tri-Cities Herald; University Week; USA Today; WATA Newsletter; and Windows on Computing
  • More than 90,000 informative brochures and handouts on topics such as teaching students with disabilities; Internet resources; adaptive technology; including students with degrees in science, engineering, and mathematics; and the DO-IT project. 
  • More than 1,000 posters featuring a picture of DO-IT Scholars in a science lab and the words "When it comes to science, engineering, and mathematics, we can DO-IT!"

A self sustaining budget was set up to distribute videotapes and printed publications at cost in order to extend the impact of the project after grant funding is depleted.

Exhibits, Demonstrations, Presentations, Events, Conferences


During the first three years of DO-IT, more than 200 presentations were given in support of project goals. DO-IT staff, Mentors, and Scholars have appeared on two radio talk shows for individuals with visual impairments, a science educational television program, a Department of Energy National Televised University panel discussion (transmitted by satellite to hundreds of Colleges of Engineering and reaching thousands of faculty), a regional cable television channel, and more than fifty other events.

Conferences included those sponsored by key K-12, computer, engineering, higher education, disabled student services, and cooperative education organizations such as Closing the Gap (CTG), American Association of Higher Education (AAHE), Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), EDUCOM, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE), Northwest Council of Computers in Education (NCCE), the Department of Energy, California State University - Northridge (CSUN) conference on adaptive technology, Washington Technology Alliance (WTA), and the National Science Foundation (NSF).

DO-IT Scholars and other K-12 and college students with disabilities along with their families, teachers, counselors, and service providers were invited to participate in a variety of special events. 1995 events included the UW Computer Fair booth, presentation, and reception; the UW Engineering Open House; the Job ACCESS Fair, Educational Day in Seattle; and the UW Health Sciences Open House. Individuals were informed of events through the DO-IT newsletter, other publications, and Internet discussion lists.


More than 85 presentations to a total of more than 4,000 people were given in support of project goals during the first three years of DO-IT. It is estimated that more than 2,000 individuals with disabilities and their associates took advantage of events offered by DO-IT. In addition, over 2,000 stopped and visited the DO-IT and adaptive technology booths at the Computer Fair over the years. Hundreds of visitors watched DO-IT videos and picked up publications at the Engineering Open House DO-IT Booth, managed by Scholars, Mentors, and staff. DO-IT videos were also presented on UWTV, a cable television channel reaching 450,000 households, and DO-IT hosted two disability-related video conferences at the UW. Participation in events reached more than 8,000 people during the first three years of DO-IT.


Primary funding of approximately $1,540,000 for the first three years of DO-IT activities was provided by the National Science Foundation. The University of Washington also contributed substantial resources. Additional contributors to DO-IT activities included NEC Foundation of America ($40,000), US West Communications ($15,000 plus gifts-in-kind), Ford Foundation ($1,000), and Washington Department of Services for the Blind ($4,000).

DO-IT partners who have contributed Internet access, Summer Study treats and mementos, other gifts-in-kind, and other support include Advanced Networking and Services; Albertson College of Idaho; Apple Computer; Battelle Pacific Laboratories; Blackfoot Communications; Boeing; Clark College; Communications Technology Center; ComputerGear, Inc.; DTP Microsystems; Ephrata School District; The Evergreen State College; Fessender Booster Club; Ford Motor Company; Gonzaga University; Grand Coulee Dam School District; Hooker Northwest; Idaho State University in Pocatello; Institute for Science, Engineering and Public Policy; Intel Corporation; Kiwanis; Lawrence Livermore Supercomputer Center; Lemman College; Microsoft/Pacwest District; NEC Foundation of America; Nintendo; Northwest Net; Pacific Science Center; Portland State University; Sendit; Skagit Valley Community College; SKIFORALL; Southern Oregon State College; Sun Microsystems; SunDog; U.S. West Communications; University of Puget Sound; Washington Access Services; Washington North Central Educational Service District; Washington Assistive Technology Alliance; Washington School Information Processing Cooperative's WEdNet; Washington State University; and Willamette University. In addition, DO-IT recruited more than forty instructors and other volunteers to help with activities.


The Principal Investigator of DO-IT is Dr. Ray Bowen, Dean of the College of Engineering. The Co-Principal Investigators are Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler (DO-IT Director and Assistant Director within Computing & Communications), and Ron Johnson (Associate Vice President, Computing & Communications). The volunteer DO-IT Advisory Board for the third year of the project includes:

  • Dr. Gene Ball, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Corporation
  • Marcine Frasier, College Relations, Boeing
  • Kathy Cook, Counselor, UW Disabled Student Services
  • Janis Funk, Seattle Public Schools, Special Education
  • Dr. Norris Haring, Professor, Special Education, UW
  • Dr. Jodie Haselkorn, Assistant Professor, Rehabilitation Medicine, UW
  • Jack Methven, US West Communications
  • Dr. George Nelson, Professor, Astronomy and Assistant Provost, UW
  • Martha Orvis, Transition Specialist and UW graduate student with a disability
  • Cynthia Schneider, parent of DO-IT Scholar currently attending UW
  • Virginia Stern, Director of Project on Science, Technology & Disability, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Jerry Van Noy, Manager, Transition Services, Washington State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation
  • Rich Walsh, Executive Director, RCH (Resource Center for the Handicapped) Technical Institute
  • Dr. Ray Bowen and Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler serve as ex-officio members.

DO-IT staff at the end of the third year of operation include:

  • Dan Comden, Adaptive Technology Specialist
  • Deb Cronheim, Research Coordinator
  • Kate Farquhar-Shirley, Program Assistant
  • Dean Martineau, Electronic Resources Specialist
  • Martha Orvis, Transition Specialist
  • Jane Sparks, Counselor
  • Nikki Stauber, Program Research Coordinator
  • Linda Tofle, Research Assistant

Further Information About DO-IT

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