Summer Study: What Do Phase I Scholars Do?

DO-IT Phase I Scholars participate in a two-week, live-in Summer Study session on the UW Seattle campus. They learn about college life; explore the Internet; interact with peers, staff, and mentors; and have fun. The DO-IT Scholars program started in 1993 as an experimental project for teens with disabilities nationwide. It is currently open to Washington State teens and is supported by the State of Washington, the Boeing Company, the Microsoft Corporation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"Ladies and Gentleman...The Beatles!"

Niki and Krysta, Phase I Scholars

One of the evening events during Summer Study was a trip to the Seattle Laser Dome to see the Beatles show. A laser show projects multi-colored lights onto a ceiling in abstract shapes and defined figures, such as trees, owls, and people in rhythm with the music.

Inside the laser dome there was a sloped area between the outer sections of seats near the front so that people could lie on the ground to view the show. This provided enough room for a few wheelchairs, but it would have been beneficial to have more wheelchair seating. The show should also consider increasing the bass volume for people who are hard of hearing or deaf, so that they can feel the music. With these improvements, more people would enjoy this awesome experience.

Woodland Park Zoo: Accommodating Habitats

Jenica and Cristina, Phase I Scholars

Visiting the zoo was a fun way to learn about animals from all over the world. From well-known lions and giraffes, to more exotic animals like Komodo dragons, there is something for everyone. It was fascinating watching the animals and fun spending time with new friends.

For a person with low vision, accessibility at the zoo is quite good. The zoo uses a large typeface on information cards, making the text easy to read. The wide walkways and ramps and spacious restrooms ensure that people using wheelchairs can easily maneuver. Railings throughout the park are at a good height so that visitors in wheelchairs can clearly view the exhibits. The zoo could increase accessibility to people who are hard of hearing by having captioned videos. Captioning would also help hearing people as well, since certain exhibits can be loud.

In our opinion, the zoo was the best field trip of Summer Study! We learned about animals and we also learned from each other?how to adjust to different environments and make accommodations that work best for each situation.

Outdoors for All?

Tatsuro and Rosa'Lea, Phase I Scholars

The Outdoors for All event at Summer Study gave Scholars the opportunity to ride accessible bikes. For people without a physical disability, riding the bikes was fun and there weren't any accessibility issues. For most Scholars with a mobility impairment, the bikes were accessible. For example, one bike at the event was propelled by the biker's arms, instead his or her legs. Scholars who have a visual impairment pedaled on a two-person bike, while a sighted Scholar steered. One Scholar, who has muscular dystrophy, found the bikes to be inaccessible because he requires trunk supports as well as a custom seat to sit comfortably. Additionally, he does not have the strength to pedal with his arms or his legs. To make this experience more accessible, we recommend a lift to transfer a person with a mobility impairment from his or her wheelchair to the bike, as well as a passenger seat with stationary foot rests.

IMAX Accessibility

Marlise and Angela, Phase I Scholars

On Saturday, July 24, Scholars went to the IMAX theater at the Pacific Science Center to watch the documentary Hubble 3D, about NASA's Hubble telescope and the breakthroughs it made in space-related science. There were some accessibility problems concerning the IMAX building and movie.

For people using wheelchairs, the theater had an acceptable amount of wheelchair space for the public but, of course, not enough for all the wheelchairs in the DO-IT group. Four Scholars transferred from their wheelchairs to theater chairs, which is a task that, ideally, would not be necessary to perform.

For one of the Scholars, who is deaf, the movie was just a bunch of pretty pictures since the film didn't have captions. For people who are blind, the film was accessible because most images were clearly described verbally. This feature aided Scholars with learning disabilities as well.

Even though watching the movie was a pleasurable experience for most Scholars, the route to and from the theater was not easily accessible for people with physical disabilities. For example, there was a long, winding ramp for wheelchairs at the top of the theater. There was not a sign instructing viewers that walking down the ramp brought you, inconveniently for most, to the bottom of the theater. At the end of the film, the usher instructed us to exit the theater using the long and steep stairs on both sides of the seats?not a route accessible for people with mobility impairments.

After the movie, a Scholar had to use the restroom. When she went to wash her hands, she noticed that one of the sinks was conveniently lower than the other two. However, she couldn't use the mirror because all three mirrors were the same inaccessible height. She wondered, "Why lower a sink but not a mirror with it?"

In conclusion, the IMAX movie experience was thrilling. There were some accessibility challenges that would be simple to fix. We hope the contractors, designers, and managers of the IMAX decide to make a few changes to the theater to accommodate everyone. We recommend adding captions to videos, making directions to wheelchair locations and routes clear, lowering mirrors in the restrooms, and training all staff to assist participants with disabilities.

Pacific Science Center

Benjy and Garrett, Phase I Scholars

The Summer Study Pacific Science Center field trip was a lot of fun. The center had elevators and power-operated doors, which made the building accessible. Additionally, most of the exhibits were low enough so that everyone, including people in wheelchairs, could see. However, certain railings were too high and blocked the line of sight for some visitors. For a person with a vision impairment, the experience wasn't very accessible. To increase accessibility, we recommend that the center install large print and Braille signs explaining the exhibits. Scholars who were blind could not see the exhibit, so having an explanation of each feature would be more inclusive.

Burke Museum

Nicco and Daman, Phase I Scholars
Picture of Nico and Bengy examining an exhibit behind a class case.
Phase I Scholars Nicco and Benjy examine an exhibit at the Burke Museum.

Going to the Burke Museum at the UW Seattle was a fun and educational experience; however, there were some accessibility issues we encountered. For example, the museum did not provide a large print version of the information displayed near its exhibits to aid people with visual impairments. As one Scholar stated, "The Burke Museum was accessible to me. It wasn't that accessible for my friend Nicco, though, because he has poor vision." Additionally, the floor plan of the museum was extremely difficult for wheelchair users to maneuver through. The only way for someone using a wheelchair to get to another floor was to use an old freight elevator at the very end of the museum and the route to the elevator was not marked. We recommend that the museum provide large print text for its displays and clearly mark the path to the elevator. 





Karaoke Night

Maximo and Shawn, Phase I Scholars

Karaoke night takes place every Summer Study on Saturday night. While eating your custom-made ice cream sundae, you can listen to your friends sing and pick out the song you want sing next. It wasn't a completely accessible event, though. Scholars with dyslexia had difficulty reading all of the words on the screen while singing. Additionally, those who were blind could not read the book of songs and weren't able to see the words on the screen. Some Scholars who have mobility impairments had difficulty holding the microphones, but they had plenty of friends to help.

Microsoft Field Trip

Ryan and Eric, Phase I Scholars

One of the trips during Summer Study was a visit to Microsoft. We toured the facilities and met with employees Loren and Jason. We also got a chance to design a robot dog. Loren helped us with the design and we came up with a lot of great ideas and even some crazy ones, including a pepper spray defense mode.

Overall, the Microsoft campus was accessible. One Scholar, who uses a wheelchair, said it was easy for him to navigate the wide hallways. Another Scholar, who also uses a wheelchair, said that it was hard to roll and turn on the carpet. To make Microsoft more accessible, we recommend that they replace the carpet with cement in places that have heavy wheelchair traffic and create wider aisles in the store for people with wheelchairs to navigate easier. For people with visual impairments, it would be helpful if the glass railing was more visible.