DO-IT News December 1997

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Volume 5, Number 4

Below are the articles of the DO-IT News December 1997 newsletter. These articles can also be seen all on one page at the Full Newsletter option.

Director's Digressions

Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.

Are you or someone you know interested in one of the most exciting learning experiences offered outside a virtual reality haven? If so, you will be interested in what DO-IT can do for you.

We are actively recruiting U.S. high school sophomores with disabilities to participate in the DO-IT Scholars program. Juniors may also apply. Candidates must be interested in science, engineering, technology, or mathematics and plan to attend college. We are particularly interested in attracting students who will become leaders and are interested in helping others with disabilities achieve success. The DO-IT Scholars program is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation.

New DO-IT Scholars will attend a two-week, live-in summer program at the University of Washington in August of 1998. If not already available, Scholars are loaned computer systems that they keep in their homes. They gain access to the Internet network to obtain information to pursue their studies and to communicate with staff, Scholars, and Mentors. They communicate year-round, return to the UW for a second Summer Study program and have opportunities to participate in internships and other worthwhile experiences. As Scholars move on to college, they become DO-IT Ambassadors, sharing their experiences with younger Scholars.

Still not convinced that this is the best program going? Let some of the active DO-IT Scholars and Ambassadors share their thoughts on the program:

  • "My concerns about living on campus have been alleviated by seeing how college life really is."
  • "I have become aware of the many extra responsibilities and concerns with college that I wasn't aware of before. It helped me learn that I need to start planning now."
  • "I learned a lot about job application processes and also about job-search skills."
  • "I've learned a lot about genetics and it has stimulated my interest in that area."
  • "I learned about the vast scope of information available on the Internet."
  • "DO-IT made me more aware of helping people. You can't look at just the disabilities, you need to look at the person...get past the disability and look at the person."

For details about the DO-IT Scholars program, check out our World Wide Web home page at or send electronic mail to Our phone number is (206) 685-doit. Call or e-mail us to request a copy of the DO-IT Scholar application packet. Applications are accepted and reviewed on an on-going basis. Potential applicants should submit their applications as soon as possible and no later than January 31, 1998. Pass the word along to others who might be interested or know students who might be interested in this great opportunity.

DO-IT Needs You!

We are about to begin our last year of funding for DO-IT Scholars. Without new funding sources, the group of 20 Scholars that we accept this year will be our last. We, of course, want to continue this program. So, how can you help?

The best way you can contribute to our efforts to find future funding is to write a letter to DO-IT, sharing your support of the project. Your personal experiences are most important. Specifically, how has being a DO-IT Scholar, Ambassador, or Mentor benefited you or someone you know? How have DO-IT publications, videotapes or World Wide Web resources benefited you or your organization? If you are interested in helping in this way, send a letter stating why you think the DO-IT program is worthy of future funding, and how it has been a benefit to you and/or your family. Your comments do not need to be long, but the more personal your story, the better. Please send a letter to the following address:

University of Washington
Box 354842
Seattle, WA 98195-4842

We will use letters of support to document the value of DO-IT activities as we seek new, creative ways to fund our efforts. Thank you for supporting DO-IT and assuring that more students will benefit from the program.

President Clinton Honors DO-IT Mentors

Sheryl Burgstahler
Picture of Sheryl Burghstahler, Kristin Otis, and Dr. Roosevelt Carter
Dr. Roosevelt Carter of the National Science Foundation congratulates Kristin Otis (center) and Sheryl Burgstahler after they received the 1997 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.

The University of Washington's DO-IT project, which has enlisted scientific luminaries such as British physicist Stephen Hawking to encourage teenagers with disabilities to pursue careers in technical fields, has won a 1997 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring.

Sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Science and Technology Council, the awards recognize outstanding programs for mentoring underrepresented groups in science, math and engineering fields. The award, which included a $10,000 grant, was presented to director Sheryl Burgstahler on September 11, at a White House ceremony.

This award recognizes the contribution of the DO-IT Mentors in the successful transition of program participants to college and careers. Kristin Otis, a mentor and counselor/coordinator with the program also attended. One of the best ways to help students with disabilities understand the tremendous opportunities open to them in science, engineering and math is for them to interact with other students and with professionals who already have overcome barriers to succeed in these fields. Responses DO-IT received via e- mail includes:

  • "All right! That's great. It's always cool to see that we're doing a good job at what we do and what we're good at."
  • "Congratulations to everyone on a job well done."
  • "I'm not surprised. If any one deserved it more than DO-IT then I'm stumped on who! :-) This is awesome news!"
  • "Congratulations again Sheryl and DO-IT folks for a job well done by running an outstanding program!"

Founded in 1992, DO-IT targets high school students with disabilities who want to pursue careers in science, math or engineering. Each summer, participants spend two weeks at the UW attending labs and lectures to get a feel for college life. They also meet with faculty and students, many with disabilities themselves, to learn how new technology is making it easier for them to pursue degrees and careers in fields once thought out of reach.

Throughout the year, DO-IT Scholars use home computers and e-mail to communicate with one another and with mentors from around the world. These cyber-relationships provide a sense of community and a source of encouragement to the students as they overcome common challenges to pursue their goals. Computers, modems and adaptive technology are provided for participants who don't have their own. DO-IT is sponsored primarily by the National Science Foundation and administered by the UW College of Engineering and UW Computing & Communications.

DO-IT was among nine institutions and 10 individuals to receive a 1997 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. Now in its second year, the award is an outgrowth of President Clinton's 1994 science policy blueprint, Science in the National Interest, which outlined two goals: to produce the best trained scientists and engineers for the 21st century and to enhance scientific and technological literacy of all Americans.

In addition to the White House award, DO-IT won first place in the 1995 National Information Infrastructure Champions of Cyberspace awards program for its innovative and practical use of the Internet and was showcased in the President's Summit on National Service earlier this year for its creative use of technology in promoting volunteer mentoring.

DO-IT 2-4: A New Initiative

Sheryl Burgstahler

DO-IT has received funding from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education through the U.S. Department of Education for project "DO-IT 2-4." This three-year project, which began October 1, 1997, helps students with disabilities in community and technical colleges successfully transition to four-year schools. The learner-centered approach uses the Internet, mentoring, internships, and other work experiences to help students increase their independence and productivity and develop self-advocacy and leadership skills.

Adaptive technology, disability awareness and transition presentations coupled with local planning sessions for coordination of campus support services assist students and professionals who support two-year students with disabilities. A nationwide dissemination plan for project electronic, print and videotape materials ensures project impact. DO-IT 2-4 is part of the University of Washington's DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) project which serves to increase the representation of people with disabilities in academic programs and careers.

Project activities will increase the participation of community and technical college students with disabilities in four-year academic programs, ultimately increasing the pool of qualified people and reducing the unemployment and under-employment of individuals with disabilities. Dr. Steve Nourse, a long-time Mentor and DO-IT Advisory Board Member, coordinates DO-IT 2-4. He is currently recruiting people with disabilities who have successfully transitioned from community or technical colleges to a four-year colleges during some point in their academic careers. If you're interested, send electronic mail to

Summer Study '97: What Did the Phase I Scholars Do?

DO-IT Phase I Scholars participated in a two-week, live-in summer study session on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, Washington. They learned about college life; explored science, engineering, mathematics, and technology; surfed the Internet; interacted with peers, staff, and mentors; and had fun. Below, Phase I Scholars share some of their experiences.

College Quirks

by DO-IT Scholars, Chris and Jennifer

During these past two weeks we have learned a great deal about college life, and have had fun doing it. We have learned how to interact with other people, be more familiar with area of the college campus, and the subtle little hints to college life. Interaction with people in a college setting is important. Interaction with a varied group of people helps to keep your social life interesting. You learn how to get along with complete strangers. This makes you a stronger person because you have to assert yourself and it gives you more confidence.

The University of Washington is bewildering to people who have never been there before. It is a huge campus and it is very easy to get lost. Being here has helped us prepare for the future, particularly when we want to attend and if we want to go to a big or small college. It also gives us an idea of how a college is laid out. Being here for these two weeks we picked up several little hints about college life. The first hint is to eat as little as possible, because the food sucks. The second hint to pick up is to always bring your key with you because you will get locked out. The third hint is to get enough sleep because you most likely will fall asleep during the lectures. The fourth and final hint about college life is to have fun.

Picture of Michael on bike
DO-IT Scholar, Michael, enjoys a summer afternoon of biking at the Ski-For-All activity during the DO-IT Summer Study.

Earthquakes: Will the big one hit Seattle?

by DO-IT Scholars, Michael and Sharon

We learned about earthquakes during Summer Study '97. The theory of continental drift originated in 1912, when a geographer named Alfred Wegener noticed that many continental features fit together and in doing so, one major continent could be formed. The theory was further refined as the idea that the continents were the basic structures was discarded in favor of triangular objects called plates. As geological and fossil evidence poured in from around the world, the theory gained strength. Yet it was not well excepted because a model for plate movement did not exist. During the 1960's the theory of convection, wherein material from the mantle circulates upward and then falls, was proposed and the model for plate movement was created.

There are two different types of earthquakes--subduction and strike-slip. Subduction variety quakes are the worst type of earthquakes, occasionally reaching between 8 and 9 on the Richter Scale, the main scale of earthquake measurement, due to the immense stress that creates them. While strike-slips are more common and found a lot in California and elsewhere, they are far less devastating, averaging between 7.0 and 8.0. Strike-slip quakes occurs along faults, which are places where two plates slide past each other. History indicates that Seattle may soon have an earthquake which will be caused by subduction, which is when an oceanic plate slips or dives under a continental plate. So maybe Washington/Oregon will fall in the ocean instead of California, whereas California will move northward and eventually end up by Seattle.

Subduction quakes off the ocean shores of Washington and Oregon seem to come around every 200 years and one is due pretty soon!! So while California might get a big one, Washington and Oregon will get an even a bigger one.

Up, Up Away in the Atmosphere

by DO-IT Scholars, Laura and Keaton

Attention readers, this is a bulletin from the DO-IT Hurricane Information Center. We are currently tracking a severe weather system over the Gulf of Mexico with serious hurricane potential. At last check, tropical storm Charles had winds of fifty miles per hour. Barometric pressure inside the storm is dropping rapidly as the storm gathers power. It is highly likely that the storm will reach hurricane strength, with winds above seventy-five miles per hour, within the next eighteen hours.

Tropical storms form over warm waters and are upgraded to hurricanes when their winds exceed seventy-four miles per hour. These storms can have diameters hundreds of kilometers across. When they make landfall they can cause extreme damage. All residents in areas where one of these storms is predicted to hit should evacuate as soon as possible and take other safety precautions to protect their property. Those who are unable to or choose not to leave the area should seek shelter in a central room on the lowest floor of a stable building. Avoid staying in trailers or other light structures. All right, there isn't really a DO-IT Hurricane Information Center, but after a great presentation by Imke Durre, a doctorate student at the University of Washington and DO-IT Mentor, DO-IT Scholars got a close-up look at these fascinating storms. Did you know that these storms rotate in opposite directions depending on whether they are in the North or South hemisphere? These storms are pretty cool, but they can also be very costly. The presentation included footage of Hurricane Hugo, the most expensive storm on record.

We learned about the classification and naming of these monster storms. If the storm forms in the western Pacific or the Atlantic it is called a hurricane, but if it is in the eastern Pacific, it is called a typhoon. In the Indian ocean, they are known as tropical cyclones. A hurricane starts out as a tropical disturbance, which may progress to become a tropical depression if its winds exceed 20 knots. At this point the system is given a number. If the storm continues to gain strength, and the winds rise to above 39 knots, it becomes a tropical storm and is awarded a name. The names given the storms that occur in a given season go alphabetically and alternate between male and female names. Some storms finally attain the rank of hurricane. These are classified by their windspeed, with the highest level (5) being those extreme storms with winds above 150 miles per hour. These are extremely damaging and deadly. Most such storms' names are retired and not used again. Andrew and Hugo are two names that have been removed from the roster due to the power of the hurricanes they represented.

Part of this fun and informative presentation was a trip into the eye of a hurricane via the Internet. The URL for this great trip is For even more net-info on hurricanes, check out DO-IT in cyberspace!

Internet Scavenging

by DO-IT Scholars, Amanda and Justin

We are proud to introduce you to the best site on the Internet. The best search engine is Yahoo. The URL is There is another search engine that works well. It is There is a music sight which is for people who like midi. The sight is Another good site is for people who enjoy reading the paper without having to pay for it. This site includes all the aspects of the paper. Many more sites exist on the Internet with sports (, news ( and for conversing between people there is chatrooms. One such chatroom is at Yahoo Chat. These chatrooms are interesting because you can meet many different people.

Advantages of Working Together in Sciences

by DO-IT Scholars, Stephen and Joshua

Students can have dramatic problems working within science labs. Some students more prone to these problems are students in wheelchairs, with hearing impairments, with visual difficulties, and with concealed disabilities. Most problems that affect them can be accommodated with very simple accommodations (e.g., sitting in the front of the class room, handouts to go along with overhead projectors, or lower or higher tables).

Learning disabilities, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, dyslexia, and other hidden disorders can make teachers uncomfortable, but sometimes the slightest accommodation can result in a great amount of change. Letting students sit in the front of the class, more interaction within the lectures, and more hands on activity with a wide variety of subjects can help keep the interest alive. Students with mobility impairments have specific needs just like everyone else. This includes having tables that can adjust to different heights, lab partners to help when fine motor skills are needed, and accessible entrances to the buildings where labs and classes are held.

Students with hearing impairments may have a hard time hearing sounds that are happening during the lab or they may miss the procedures given by teachers. Written procedures are helpful. If there is a lab that has to do with sounds that a deaf person cannot hear then it is helpful to have a visual indication to show that the sound has appeared or it has not appeared.

Students with vision impairments may have a hard time seeing what is happening or what the object of interest is doing. To answer that problem, it would be helpful if someone was telling them what was happening in the lab or a teacher could explain what will or should be happening in the lab. This way people who are blind and have low vision could be just as involved in the lab, with the verbal descriptions, as the people that can see.

Impressions of DO-IT

by DO-IT Scholars, Karyn and Andrew

Most people agreed that this year's DO-IT program was very good, but there was also a common feeling that many things could be improved. The activities were a good idea, but there needed to be more Scholar interaction. Some felt that it would have been nice if there were less lectures, and more interactive activities. The high-level discussions of how to use things like FTP, the Web, or PINE were very good. But some of the Internet-related discussions were lacking in-depth explanations of how the actual protocols work. We wish that the Search Engine synopsis were more comprehensive.

To conclude to this article we gathered several opinions of other DO-IT Phase I Scholars.

  • "The idea [of DO-IT] is a good one, but like any other program in its beginning, major changes need to occur to make it better."
  • "It is an excellent program, certainly one I can feel comfortable in."

Have a Heart!

by DO-IT Scholars, Minh and Veronica

One of the activities we did at Summer Study was the "Have a Heart" Lab. It was presented by Laura Clark. The purpose of the lab was to learn more about the structure of the heart. In the lab, we performed "heart surgery" on a sheep's heart. We learned not only the heart's structure and functions, but we also learned how different surgeries can correct many disorders. First we learned about the different functions of the heart. We then performed a bypass on the heart. We are sorry to say that our patients didn't survive. After this devastating experience, we decided to find out if a new valve might revive the heart. It did not. Since all hopes of saving the poor sheep were lost, we sliced the heart in half . Although the heart was definitely beyond repair, we learned a lot about how it worked. This lab was very helpful for people who want to go into the medical field. Heart surgery was one of the most fun and educational activities in Summer Study. It gave us a real hands-on learning experience and showed us one of the many applications of science.

Music on the Internet

by DO-IT Scholars, Shakethia and Ben

Are you tired of sitting at home without any music? Well, guess what? You can find it on the 'Net!! That's right. There is music on the Net. All you have to do is sit down at your computer and type a few words and there you have it. Now don't say they don't have your type of music because they have all kinds including R & B, reggae, pop, country, jazz, classical, and much more. You can even get videos to go along with the music, although the videos may be slow and shaky. "RealPlayer" from Progressive Networks, Inc., is a good program to download from the Internet for audio and or video clips. Just think about it! If you cannot get home from school or work to see your favorite video all you have to do is go to and you can see the Top Twenty Countdown or even check up on your favorite MTV Show. If you like a local radio station you can go to their web site and listen to their music. And if you like a certain CD, you can visit your favorite CD retailer on the Web and order it. There are many possibilities, but it's up to your preference to choose what you like.

Good Software:
"RealPlayer" Progressive Networks, Inc.

Good Web sites:

Danny Delcambre - If I Can, You Can

Alexi and Brad

On Tuesday, August 12, Danny Delcambre, the first deaf-blind founder and operator of a Seattle restaurant, gave an inspirational speech on his accomplishments. Having grown up in Louisiana, prime Cajun country, Danny appropriately named his restaurant Ragin Cajun. A student of world renown chef Paul Prudhomme, Danny is experienced in the fine art of cooking. Proof of success is in the form of recognition by high authority. Named the Small Business Employer of the Year by the President of the United States and subsequently followed by the Small Businessman of the Year awards by the City of Seattle and the State of Washington, his path to success was not easy though.

In order to graduate from culinary school, Danny needed an internship with a chef. Applying many times to famous chefs for an internship in cooking, he was turned down or asked to do menial jobs such as sweeping the floor or washing dishes. Finally, Danny was accepted for what he was, a chef, by Paul Prudhomme and he received the internship that he needed. Attempting to get a job after graduation from culinary school, Danny was turned down every time. Fed up, Danny decided to found his own restaurant, the Ragin Cajun. He had to set up a business plan to present to the bank. His first counselor was too negative about Danny's chances, so Danny asked for a new counselor and received a positive counselor. Thus Danny was able to get his first bank loan with relatively no trouble because of the help that the counselor from the Small Business Association gave him. Thus Danny Delcambre made history by founding the first deaf-blind owned restaurant, and found out the secrets of success.

Pertaining to the If I Can, You Can theme of the speech, Danny gave his five 'spices of success' for all to follow, both able and disabled. The first spice is to find your passion. It's o.k. to change your passion. This Danny knows because he had jobs that he thought he liked then changed his mind. The second spice is surround yourself with positive people. Get rid of the negative people. An example of Danny accomplishing this is when he had asked for a new business counselor when his first counselor was too negative. The third spice is to be your own best friend. What this means is that you have to like yourself before you can be successful.

The fourth spice is to enjoy life. Have fun! Find a sense of balance between work and play. The fifth and final spice is keep your sense of humor. An example of Danny's sense of humor is when his friend asked him for the sign "hello." Danny, instead of hello, taught his friend the sign for "horny." His friend went to a party populated by deaf people that signed, and Danny's friend went around the party signing "horny" when he meant "hello."

All of Danny's stories made for a very entertaining hour and a half. It was one of the best speeches that I ever heard, and to top it all off, Danny made his fantastic speech in American Sign Language where most of the people in the room could only understand him through a voice interpreter. In the end, Sheryl Burgstahler, the director of DO-IT, asked Danny how we, the audience, could show our appreciation for his speech. Danny said, for the blind, you clap. For the deaf, you raise your hands and shake them. And for the deaf- blind, you stamp your feet on the ground. Everyone stamped their feet!

Summer Study '97: What Did the Phase II Scholars Do?

Picture of scholars reclining on floor
Phase I Scholars find the best positions for observing the laser demonstration at the Pacific Science Center.

Phase II Scholars returned to the University of Washington campus for a second summer study. They met the Phase I Scholars, learned about college life and career preparation, and participated in a one-week workshop with a team of postsecondary instructors. Phase II Scholars who were unable to attend wrote articles about things of interest to them.The articles below summarize some of their experiences.

The Game of Life and Image Processing

by DO-IT Scholars, Cheri, Daniel, Michael, Rebecca

Everybody knows that the 21st century is going to be based primarily on computers. We believe that it's just as important to know what's going on inside the program as it is to know what's happening on it. We had a chance to write a program using the computer language "C," and create some interesting results. Among other things, Cheri had a "cat chasing a mouse," Daniel created several forms of fill programs, Rebecca did an experiment with dot matrix, and Michael made a melting program using his portrait. We enjoyed ourselves and learned some new concepts in the process. We would like to thank Dr. Richard Ladner, Jim Fixx, CJ, and DO-IT.

The Genetics Workshop

by DO-IT Scholars, David, Lucas, Zachary, Jodi

First of all, the doctor who found the cure for the common cold was stolen by an intruder, but the intruder dropped the test tube and left it there. We are able to find the intruder because there was E-coli on the test tube that the intruder dropped and left. We went through different stages of creating DNA. The result was that Dr. D.S. Honest (David) was behind all of this because of the e-coli he was using. We were surprised that David was behind all off this according to the result. We learned new stuff like how to figure out who did what and what equipment is used and stuff like that. It was great activity to do!

Black Holes

By DO-IT Scholar, Kevin

A "Black Hole" is described as a hole in outer space into which energy and stars and other space matter collapse and disappear. The term "Black Hole" was coined by John Wheeler in 1969. A black hole is a singularity, which is when the general theory of relativity breaks down and the density of matter and the curvature of space-time is infinite. A singularity is contained in a region of space-time with zero volume.

Black holes are created when a star collapses in on itself to an infinitesimal point or, in the case of a primoral black hole, can have as little mass as a mountain, and it is believed to have been created by intense pressures under conditions just after the big bang. A star is basically formed by a large amount of hydrogen molecules that contract because of gravity and as they get closer, their velocity speeds up and at some point they merge to form helium under the intense pressure formed by the gravitational pull and the intense speed and heat of the hydrogen molecules when colliding with each other.

Then the gravity continues to pull on the helium molecules, however, the heat allows them to expand thus keeping gravity at bay. Eventually, it burns its energy out and gravity contracts the star to make a white dwarf, which is what our Sun will eventually be, a neutron star, which has about the radius of 10 miles and is formed by a star of greater mass than a white dwarf, or a black hole which is formed by a star that is greater than the Chun Driskaw limit which states what a star will become when it contracts according to its mass.

Although gravity is the weakest of the four forces (the other three being electromagnetic, weak nuclear force, strong nuclear force), it acts over a long range and is always attractive in nature. So with enough matter, gravity can dominate over the other three forces such as a star collapsing in on itself forming a black hole.

Light moves at a finite speed (186232 miles per second), and it was once believed that light was made solely of waves or solely of particles. If made of waves, light should not be affected by gravity. If made of particles, gravity should affect light the same as any other particles. Light is known now to be made of wave particle duality, which means that gravity can affect light even if light touches the event horizon (the boundary of a black hole in which is it said nothing escapes). Light gets trapped in the black hole circling around in the event horizon.

Some black holes are believed to reside in the centers of certain galaxies, such as Sigmas XI, the Magnellic Clouds and even our own galaxy. It is believed that there are many more, possibly more black holes in actual stars which would account for the rate of expansion of the universe. At this time, the amount of matter recorded is not enough to explain this rate of expansion.

Wheelchair Accessible Gardening

by DO-IT Scholar, Joshua

Many people enjoy gardening as a hobby, or even as a profession. When most people think of gardening, they usually think of someone down on their hands and knees on the ground. This doesn't have to be the case, though. People who have a disability can enjoy gardening just as much as everyone else. Raised gardens can bring the plants up to people who use wheelchairs. There are a few things that need to be considered when making a wheelchair accessible garden.

The first thing to consider, is the construction of the raised garden. It should be a comfortable height to work at. Twenty-eight to thirty inches high is usually good. Second, it should not be too wide. If it is too wide, it will be hard to reach the center of the garden. Generally, it should be no more than two feet to the center, so a bed accessible from all sides could be about four feet across. Length doesn't really matter. It can be as long or as short as you like. The garden can be built with pressure treated two by eight's with four by four posts in each corner. An easy alternative to building a raised bed is to use large pots. You can grow anything in pots, even cucumbers and tomatoes! An advantage to using pots is that they are portable, and can be easily moved. Once the raised bed is built it should be filled with good top soil or compost.

Next, you need to decide what type of paths to have between and around the raised beds. It can be left as grass, but it may be hard to maneuver a lawnmower down narrow paths. It can also be made of wood chips or mulch. A four to six inch layer will keep the weeds down, but it needs to be replaced every year or two. Wood chips may also be hard for wheelchairs to run on. Another option is pea gravel. This will also keep weeds down, but doesn't have to be replaced as often a wood chips. Once the gravel is compacted, wheelchairs should have no problem getting around on it. A more permanent alternative is a brick or stone patio built around the raised beds. This keeps weeds down, doesn't need to be replaced, and wheelchairs can easily get around on it. A disadvantage to this is that it is more labor intensive and expensive to install.

Once you have the raised garden built and easily accessible, you need to decide what to put in the garden. A good, foolproof choice is annuals. Annuals provide instant color and come in many shapes and sizes in a wide range of colors. Some good choices are petunias, marigolds, snap dragons, pansies, impatiens (if you have shade), and annual salvia. Put the tall plants in the center or back of the bed, and work your way down to the shortest plants in the front. Plants that drape over the side of the bed, such as lobelia and petunias, are good for the edge. Hardy perennials can also be grown in raised beds. Some good choices are black-eyed-Susan's, ornamental grasses, hostas (if you have shade), daisies, dwarf iris, and creeping dianthus for the edges. It will take the perennials a year or two to get established, but after that they require very little care, and don't need to be replaced every year like annuals.

When your garden is planted, it will require very little care. When it is dry, or very hot out, give it a good soaking in the morning or evening, never during the hottest part of the day. About once a month it is a good idea to fertilize your garden so it will keep growing strong and provide lots of flowers and vegetables. Once in a while it is a good idea to dead-head your flowers. This means to take off the old, dead flowers so the plants will continue to make new ones. That's about all there is to maintaining your raised garden.

My Summer Camp Work Experience

by DO-IT Scholar, Dana

My summer camp experience as a leadership trainer was quite possibly the best and worst experience of my life. It reminded me of a clown that juggled too many balls at one time and dropped all of them because of inability to hold onto all of the balls. It was a very stressful job, but I had a lot of fun doing it.

My main job was taking care of the cabin while the staff members were away. My cabin consisted of 21 boys from the ages of 14 to 15. They were a pain to control because they loved to annoy me. Unfortunately for them I brought I wide variety of equally annoying music to wake up to. I also was in charge of several classes. I was in charge of organizing bands and MIDI production. I was also in charge of the MTC soccer team. I learned a great deal about people as well as the activities.

Summer Camps '97: What Did DO-IT Campers Do?

DO-IT hosts programs at existing camps for children and youth with disabilities. At Camp Courage, Minnesota, DO-IT teaches a 10-day program on Internet use, college preparation, studies in careers, science, engineering, mathematics, and technology. At other camps, DO-IT offers Internet, science, and college preview experiences for campers. After their DO-IT Camper experience, many participants become DO-IT Pals, where they continue to communicate with each other and with the DO-IT Mentors on the Internet. Contact the DO- IT office or home page for more information about DO-IT at Camp or DO-IT Pals program. Below, one DO-IT Camper shares her experiences at Camp Courage.

Picture of campers watching CJ use computer
DO-IT Intern, CJ, demonstrates Internet techniques to a rapt audience at MDA Camp Waskowitz.

DO-IT Did It at Camp Courage

by Tashauna

My name is Tashauna. I am 15 years-old and I will be a sophomore in high school this fall. My disability is arthrogryposis. It's like muscular dystrophy. I really enjoyed working with the Internet and sending email to all of my awesome counselors. Some of the things that we got to do at Camp Courage included: establishing new e-mail accounts, exploring the Internet, and visiting St. Cloud University. A professor came to talk to us about talking to college professors about adaptations in the college classroom.

My favorite thing at camp was writing to people through e-mail who also have disabilities. The new information that I learned at camp will allow me to carry over to my e-mail work at home on my computer. I strongly urge any teen who has a disability and a love for computers to come and enjoy the Camp Courage atmosphere.

Life After High School

Jorja and Priscilla (DO-IT Ambassadors and Summer Study Interns)

Most seniors in high school know college will be different than high school. The majority think that college will be much better. Some might be scared to leave home. However, the vast majority of students that move on to attend college are successful, as long as they keep one thing in mind, be responsible.

Responsibility is one way to become successful. As a high school student, your parents are the ones who mostly supported you. It changes once you're in college. For example, I, Jorja, was totally on my own. I had my own house, my own source of income, and had to figure out my own way of transportation, and among other responsibilities. I'm not saying this applies to everyone, but you might have some similar ones.

When going to college, there are certain things you need to prepare for. The first things that come to mind are getting the classes you want, the right books, and among other details. You may not think about your disability that prohibits you from doing certain tasks. That's where Disabled Student Services (DSS) comes in. They provide a way for students with disabilities to learn more easily.

Working with DSS might be a little scary. It was for me because I didn't know whether or not it would be a hard process. Also, I never had to describe my disability to anyone before. Once you contact the DSS office, it's a piece of cake. First of all, you need to be assertive; state your case. List your strengths and weaknesses. Between you and the DSS counselor, you should figure out what kind of accommodations you might need. Be open to suggestions. What you had in high school might not work in college. By trying something new lets you broaden you horizon in terms of accommodations.

It's best to build a relationship with your counselor rather than be demanding. Be kind and considerate if you don't get accommodations right away. It takes time. Some accommodations take longer than others. College classes are more difficult to some. If this is the case, you can't let yourself get down. Look on the positive side. When you need help with classes, or anything else, just ask. People are always willing to help. Also, allow yourself more time. Plan ahead. Don't wait until the last second to do things. It may work for a while, but it will wind up for the worse. The most important thing in college is to have fun. Do something you enjoy on a regular basis. Keep in mind that you need to have goals. Goals are what makes college worthwhile.

DO-IT Mentor Profile

T.V. Raman

The path from Pune, India, to Mountain View, California, could not have been easy for me, but I wave off suggestions that I have overcome any great handicap. Glaucoma dimmed my eyesight gradually during childhood. By age 14, I couldn't see anything. I am the youngest child in a middle-class family of six. I-whose initials stand, respectively, for my hometown and my father's name-showed an early affinity for mathematics. I majored in the subject at the University of Pune, then applied for a master's program in math and computer science at the Indian Institute of Technology-the first blind student ever to do so. I convinced the dean to allow students to satisfy their national social service requirement by reading the screen for me. I had to line up 13 students each semester.

At Cornell University, where I did my doctoral work, I got my first speech synthesizer. Along with the most advanced screen-reading software then available: it simply spoke the text on display. Imagine working with a one-line, 40-character display, instead of a nice, big 60-line monitor. That's what you're fighting against when you use a speech interface. Worse than the tedium, the device rendered many of the mathematics texts I needed to read unintelligible. Most of these papers were written in LaTeX [a notation used to typeset texts containing equations or symbols]. The program would come upon the code for an equation and start saying, ŒBackslash backslash x caret something'-it was ridiculous. So I decided to write a nice weekend hack that would read LaTeX to me sensibly.

I'm currently working with Adobe to incorporate audio formatting into its popular portable document format. I frequently speak at conferences on the future of computer interfaces. On the Internet, I create and present ideas to push the boundaries of technology and persuasively argue for standards that will ensure that the flood of information raises all boats.

My favorite hobby is WebSurfing. I am interested in linguistics and can speak about eight languages, including French, German and several Indian languages. I enjoy working on puzzles, especially those that involve an intuitive feel for mathematics. One of the things I enjoyed doing the most in the early eighties was to solve the Rubik's cube faster than anyone else around me, on an average of about thirty seconds!

DO-IT Ambassador Profile

Picture of DO-IT Ambassador Shawn
DO-IT Ambassador Shawn

My name is Shawn, and I'm an Ambassador for the DO-IT program. I'm 18-years-old and from Washington. My disability isn't known but we think it might have to do with the Salla disease. Salla affects how you move and talk. I use a wheelchair to get around and I also use a computer because I can't write very well.

I'm currently a freshmen at Big Bend Community College in Washington. I'm going to major in computer science, but I might change later to computer applications. I hope to either own a computer business or write computer programs. This past summer I was a DO-IT Intern for the annual Summer Study program. It was my first job so I learned how to get things done diligently. I also learned how hard the DO-IT staff and the Interns had to work together to run the camp effectively, but overall, I had a blast. My hobbies are reading, computers, listening to music, and just hanging around.

DO-IT Scholar Profile

Picture of DO-IT Scholar Shakethia
DO-IT Scholar Shakethia

My name is Shakethia. I am 16 years old and currently in the eleventh grade. I go to a high school in Mississippi. I am a paraplegic from a gunshot wound and use a wheelchair. Some of the things I like to do in my spare time are watching television, talking on the phone, going to the movies, playing with my computer and listening to music. After I finish school, I would like to become a lawyer.




DO-IT Pal Profile


My name is Jessie. I am 16 years old and I'm from the state of Washington. I'm currently in tenth grade. I have cerebral palsy and I'm interested in science and engineering. I plan to take different science courses to help me determine which field I might be interested in pursuing when I attend college.

Technology Tips, Mark 'em: Popular Search Engines on the World Wide Web

DO-IT Technology Specialist, Dan Comden

When looking for information on the Web, it's a good idea to use a couple of different search engines. Once you've found your favorite(s), take time to read the online help for each to use the advanced features that each contains.

My Yahoo!

DO-IT Ambassador, Shawn

I thought I would tell everybody about an interesting server on the Internet. My Yahoo is another branch of a Web browser called Yahoo. It's a Web page that you can make yourself. If you want to know the scores for you favorite team you can just edit your sports teams. Or if you want to know the science headlines but not the health ones, you can just edit your headlines. Sounds interesting? All you have to do to get started is go to and start a new account. Don't worry it's free to be a member. So go try it!

Wow, What an Academically-Relevant Work Experience!

Eric, DO-IT Ambassador

Hi all. I just thought I would tell you about my summer internship. It kept me very busy and I even had to arrange it to earn college credits. I basically learned how to run a radio station. I learned how to operate the control board and set up programs. They record a lot of their programs on video and I programmed the VCR to come on at the time they want the program to start. We use a VCR because it is easier to use than those early-day reel systems and they are cheaper.

The station also had a CD player which we operated to avoid dead air time. As long as I had the control board set up right and the CD on, I can turn it on as soon as the show is over. In addition, there is a talking PC system which I used to update the program directories. Although I goof up from one time to the other, I learned a lot about running a radio station and I found it to be very educational.

DO-IT Library Project Wrap-Up

Beth Fraser, DO-IT project coordinator

Want to find out Ken Griffey's lifetime batting average? Interested in learning what marine biologists spend their time doing? Want to find a good book to read? When you need to find information for a school project, or to learn about careers and internships, or just to win a bet, where do you go? Most people think of visiting or calling their local library.

Libraries have lots of information and entertainment resources that can help you first of all be more productive and successful in your life, and second of all, have more fun while you are doing your life! The wonders of adaptive technology and computers have opened up whole new vistas of information and entertainment resources to people with disabilities. Library resources that have been designed to be universally accessible make government documents (find an application to get a passport on the Web, send it by snail mail to the Department of State and presto, you're ready for Paris!), encyclopedias (your teacher wants you to write a report on one species in the genus Platyrrhini), and library catalogs (visit your library's online catalog on the Internet, request a copy of Avis book, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and have it delivered to your doorstep) readily available to people with disabilities!

But wait. Hold the party. There is one slight problem. Not all librarians know about using universal design to make sure that their Web and library resources are accessible to the widest possible number of people. But, get ready to cheer--thanks to DO-IT, universal design guidelines are now in the hands of many librarians across the country!!

For the past year, DO-IT has sponsored and I have coordinated a project funded by the Telecommunications Funding Partnership to develop materials and programs to educate libraries and other educators about universal design, adaptive technology and accessible services. During the course of the project over 1500 librarians attended presentations on adaptive technology and accessible Web design at 21 conferences that DO-IT staff, volunteers and scholars presented. Over 300 libraries across the nation also received complimentary copies of the presentation materials to help jump-start their commitment to accessible libraries. You can learn more about the project and see many of the materials developed by visiting DO-IT's Web site at To obtain printed and videotaped project materials, contact the DO-IT office.

Past and present DO-IT Scholars made important contributions to the project! Scholars Priscilla and Eric shared from their experiences using the Web and computers with educators and librarians at conference presentations. Michael, Matt, and Kris are featured in a videotape on accessible Web design developed through the project. Thank you Priscilla, Eric, Michael, Matt and Kris!!

The next time you visit your public or school library, take this article along and show it to the librarians. Then you'll be helping to spread the word, too!

What is "Universal Design!"?

Universal design means designing services and resources for people with a broad range of abilities and disabilities. When planning a program or service, think broadly about all of the possible users, and design your Web page, database, or program so that as many people as possible can use it without special accommodations. This saves time and energy (and in many cases, money!) for everyone! Here are the basic principles of Universal design which we have adapted from a list by an organization that works to create accessible software and electronic resources called the Trace Research & Development Center.

What are some examples of universal design principles?

  • equitable use
  • flexible use
  • simple and intuitive use
  • redundancy of information in a variety of formats
  • low physical effort

Why use universal design principles?

  • To ensure that your site is accessible to a diverse audience, use Universal Design Principles. Remember, some visitors cannot see graphics because of visual impairments; cannot hear audio because of hearing impairments; and use adaptive technology with their computer to access the Web.
  • To meet legal requirements of accessibility according to the Americans with Disabilities Act and other laws.
  • To prepare for increasing numbers of people with disabilities requesting service.
  • To meet World Wide Web Consortium guidelines on accessibility.

What are some accessible Web design guidelines?

General Page Design:

  • Use a simple, consistent page layout throughout your site.
  • Keep backgrounds simple. Make sure there is enough contrast. How does your page look on a black and white monitor?
  • Design large buttons or graphical links. Large buttons assist visitors to your site that have mobility impairments and limited fine motor control.
  • Use standard HTML - no blink or frame tags.
  • Include a notice about accessibility at your site.

Graphical Features:

  • Include short ALT attributes for logos and graphics.
  • Provide menu alternatives for image maps to ensure that the embedded links are accessible.
  • Include descriptive captions for pictures.
  • Include transcriptions of manuscript images.
  • Caption video and transcribe other audio.
  • Links should be descriptive, and should make sense when read out of context.

Special Features:

  • Use tables and frames sparingly, or consider alternatives.
  • Always test forms and databases. Include an e-mail address and other contact information for those who cannot access them.
  • Some plug-ins include accessibility utilities, however, many are not accessible. Provide the content from these in text-based formats.

Calendar of Events

Picture of children watching Dean Martineau use laptop computer
Dean Martineau, DO-IT Mentor, demonstrates a talking computer to school children at the U.W. Computer Fair.

TelEd '97 - ISTE's Sixth International Conference on Telecommunications and Multimedia in Education
November 13-16, 1997
Austin, Texas. Conference will focus on how interactive networked multimedia learning environments can involve students, teachers, and other educational leaders in a worldwide community of leaders. For more information, contact Laurie Thornley, ISTE/TelEd '97, 1787 Agate Street, Eugene, OR 97403-1923; (541) 346-2472; FAX: (541) 346-5890;

1998 Pacific Rim Conference on Disabilities
February 7-12, 1998
Honolulu, HI.
1998 theme, linking local solutions with the global village, signifies the application of successful local practices to international settings. For more information, contact Pacific Basin Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, 320 Ward Avenue, Suite 107, Honolulu, HI 96814; (808) 592-5900; Fax (808) 592-5909;

1998 AAAS Annual Meeting and Science Innovation Exposition
February 12-17, 1998
Philadelphia, PA.
Sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. For more information, contact AAAS Meetings Office, 1200 New York Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20005; (202) 326-6410; Fax (202) 289-4021;

American Camping Association Conference
February 25-28, 1998
Dallas, Texas.
Annual conference for camp professionals throughout the country. Featuring a large number of educational and training sessions. For more information, contact American Camping Association, 5000 State Road 67 North, Martinsville, IN 46151-7902; (765) 342-8456; FAX: (765) 342-2065;

The 1998 Community College Futures Assembly
February 28-March 3, 1998
Orlando, Florida. Administrators, faculty and other participants discuss key issues on the future of community colleges heading into the 21st Century. For more information contact the Conference Management Office at (407) 299-5000 ext. 3205 or 3229.

The International Conference on Technology and Education (ICTE) Conference
March 8-11, 1998
Santa Fe, New Mexico. A conference for technology-using educators from a wide range of higher educational institutions, state departments of education, ministries of education, and school systems worldwide. For information, contact ICTE at (817) 534-1220; FAX (817) 534-0096;

Northwest Council for Computer Education
March 11-13, 1998
Spokane, Washington. For more information, contact NCCE, 2501 SW Sunset Boulevard Portland, Oregon 97201-1219; (503) 246-0133.

Technology and Persons with Disabilities (CSUN)
March 17-21, 1998
Los Angeles, California. Annual conference on assistive technology for people with disabilities. For more information contact California State University at Northridge, Center on Disabilities, 18111 Nordhoff Street, Northridge, CA 91330-8340; (818) 677-2578; FAX: (818) 677-2578; LTM@CSUN.EDU;

Twenty-Third Annual UW Computer Fair
March 19 - 20, 1998
Seattle, Washington. An opportunity for professionals from the University and the community to present and demonstrate state-of-the-art computer equipment, software, and support materials. All fair activities are free of charge to attendees. For more information, call (206) 543-3630; FAX: (206) 685-4045;;

National Science Teachers Association Conference (NSTA)
April 16-19, 1998
Las Vegas, Nevada. Science supervisors, science coordinators, science consultants, science department chairs, lead science teachers, mentor science teachers, and educators are invited to participate in a four-day event to share and discuss trends, challenges, and ideas. For more information, contact NSTA Convention Office, 1840 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22201-3000; (703) 243-7100.

Sixth Annual Conference on Serving Adults with Learning Disabilities
May 21, 1998
This one day conference is offered for adult educators, secondary school personnel, literacy volunteers, employment training specialists, and other professionals working with adults with learning disabilities and other learning difficulties. The conference is co sponsored by the Connecticut Postsecondary Disability Technical Assistance Center at the University of Connecticut, and the Adult Training and Development Network at the Capitol Region Education Council and will be held at the Hartford Marriott in Farmington, Connecticut. For more information, contact the Adult Training and Development Network, 111 Charter Oak Avenue, Harford, CT, 06106 or call (860) 524-4046.

10th Annual Postsecondary Learning Disability Training Institute June 10-13, 1998
The focus of this four-day training institute is to assist concerned professionals to meet the unique needs of college students with learning disabilities. The training is sponsored by the Postsecondary Education Disability Unit at the University of Connecticut. For more information call (860) 486-0273 or see the Web site at

Off the 'Net

Things you don't want to hear during surgery:

  • Better save that. We'll need it for the autopsy.
  • Someone call the janitor - we're going to need a mop
  • "Accept this sacrifice, O Great Lord of Darkness"
  • Bo! Bo! Comeback with that! Bad Dog!
  • Wait a minute, if this is his spleen, then what's that?
  • Hand me that...uh...that uh.....thingie
  • Oh no! I just lost my Rolex.
  • Oops! Hey, has anyone ever survived 500 ml of this stuff before?
  • Damn, there go the lights again...
  • "Ya know, there's big money in kidneys.Hell, the guy's got two of 'em.
  • Everybody stand back! I lost my contact lens!
  • Could you stop that thing from beating; it's throwing my concentration off.
  • What's this doing here?
  • I hate it when they're missing stuff in here.
  • That's cool! now can you make his leg twitch?!
  • I wish I hadn't forgotten my glasses.
  • Well folks, this will be an experiment for all of us.
  • Steril, shcmeril. The floor's clean, right?
  • What do mean he wasn't in for a sex change...!
  • Anyone see where I left that scalpel?
  • And now we remove the subject's brain and place it in the body of the ape.
  • OK, now take a picture from this angle. This is truly a freak of nature.
  • This patient has already had some kids, am I correct?
  • Nurse, did this patient sign the organ donation card?
  • Don't worry. I think it is sharp enough.
  • What do you mean "You want a divorce"!
  • She's gonna blow! Everyone take cover!!!

More About DO-IT

DO-IT News is published at the University of Washington with input from the staff, Pals, Scholars, Ambassadors, and Mentors of DO-IT. DO-IT is primarily funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. To request more information.