Summer Study '09: What Do the Phase I Scholars Do?

The DO-IT Scholars program started in 1993 as an experimental project for teens with disabilities nationwide. It is open to Washington State teens and is supported by the State of Washington, the Boeing Company, and the Microsoft Corporation.

DO-IT Phase I Scholars participate in a two-week, live-in Summer Study session on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. They learn about college life; explore the Internet; interact with peers, staff, and mentors; and have fun.

A Trip to University Village: A Lesson in Access for Wheelchair Users

Anna and Kristin, Phase I Scholars

"I almost died going down that hill," recalled Melissa, a DO-IT Summer Study Intern, regarding the trip to the University Village shopping center. Melissa uses a wheelchair to get around. The sidewalk was wide enough for wheelchairs, but it surely wasn't safe. One of the biggest problems with the sidewalk was that it was bumpy and uneven, making it hard for wheelchairs to move safely down it. Not only was it hard for those in a wheelchair, but also for those who are visually impaired or blind, or others who were just walking. There were so many cracks, divots, and uneven places in the ground that it sent many of us tripping and falling.

As we made it down the hill towards the crosswalk near the curb of the intersection, all limbs surprisingly still intact, we came to find that there was no wheelchair ramp to cross the street. When we finally arrived at University Village, we found that most stores did not have wide enough areas between displays and shelves for wheelchairs. Additionally, almost none of the stores had automatic doors.

What we learned from this trip is, even though it has been almost twenty years since the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, we have a long way to go to ensure that everything is accessible to wheelchair-users.

Microsoft Field Trip

Louis and Reese, Phase I Scholars

Our trip to Microsoft was one to remember. My first memory of it is that the building had air-conditioning. With Seattle temperatures breaking heat records it was nice to be in a room that didn't feel like a sauna.

Besides getting a chance to cool off, the best part of the trip was learning about the benefits of internships and how they can help students starting out in their career. We also got to visit a room where Microsoft has accommodations for people with disabilities. They had offices that were built for people with disabilities, including blindness, quadriplegia, and learning disabilities. We were able to see the technology that Microsoft provides to level the playing field for people of different abilities.

The speakers at Microsoft were all people with disabilities, which demonstrated that people with disabilities can get meaningful jobs in the computer science field.

Our trip ended with a visit to the employee store. DO-IT participants received exclusive access to shop for Microsoft products, at employee prices. There were things from games to Windows platforms, all at extremely low prices. This Microsoft trip was not only fun, but also educational for DO-IT Scholars. We would love to do it again.

Wheelchair Rugby

Joey and Josh, Phase I Scholars

When we first heard the words "wheelchair rugby," we wondered how it worked, because rugby has a lot of tackling, pitching, and kicking. However, when we watched the game we realized that it was a mix of a few different sports: basketball, rugby, and hockey.

Wheelchair rugby is played on a standard basketball court. The objective is to get the entire wheelchair, with complete possession of the ball, over the goal line (much like in hockey). Players are allowed to pass the ball to other players on their team, even if it is a forward pass (much like in basketball). Each team must score within forty seconds of when they gain possession of the ball. They can hold the ball for up to ten seconds before they have to either dribble the ball or pass it to a teammate. If they do not pass the ball or dribble it within the allotted time, the other team gets the ball. Only three people can be in the key at one time, and no one player can stay in the key for more than ten seconds. If an offensive player commits this or any other penalty, then they lose possession of the ball. However, if a defensive player commits the penalty, then a point could be awarded to the opposing team or they could get thrown in the penalty box (much like in hockey). A player only has twelve seconds to advance the ball past half court.

The game consists of four, eight-minute periods with each team allotted six time-outs in regulation. If the game goes into overtime, each team gets an additional time-out. The overtime periods are three minutes each and cannot end in a tie, so one game could go on forever, but it would be unlikely to happen.

We had the opportunity to watch the game in action. It was between two teams: a red team and a black team. The red team used a lot of strategy, communication, and passing, while the black team tried to win using speed and brute strength. Complete opposites were chosen to compete against each other. Despite the speed and strength of the black team, the red team was able to keep the game close for the full thirty-two minutes. In the first period, the black team got out to an early lead by beating up the red team and just blowing past them, but the red team was able to come back and tie up the game before the first period was over. At the start of the second period, the black team again came out strong and took the lead. They were able to maintain their lead throughout the period this time, and had momentum going into the half with a two-point lead.

The start of the second half did not look too bright for the red team, but the start is not the part of the game that matters. The red team was able to fight and climb their way back to a fresh game by the end of the third period, as the score was now tied. As the final period started, it was anybody's game. With the red team's strategy and the black team's brute strength and speed, who would arise as the victor? The score was going back and forth throughout the final period; the suspense was incredible right up until the final buzzer sounded. There were only two goals separating the two teams by the end of the game, and it turns out that brains overpowered brawn. That made us happy, because we were rooting for the red team during the match. A game of wheelchair rugby is an experience that you have to see in person!

Pacific Science Center

Josh and Sean, Phase I Scholars
Picture of Josh and Lewis inside a large water wheel.
'09 Scholars, Josh and Louis explore the giant water wheel at the Pacific Science Center.

On Saturday, July 18th, the Phase I DO-IT Scholars and Interns traveled to the Pacific Science Center, located in the scenic Seattle Center. After arriving early and getting situated at the unique multi-structured building, we were free to travel throughout the exhibits in small groups, exploring at our leisure.

Between our arrival and lunch, we entered the dinosaur exhibit, which features many life-size models and hands-on activities. Next, we traveled to the bug exhibit, right in time to handle live Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches and listened to a cockroach lecture. After that, we passed through the butterfly house, exploring numerous rare butterflies and the habitats in which they live. Following that, our group went to the Shadow House, a unique exhibit where a shadow of an image is shown on the wall. Next, we traveled to the exhibits that contained live animals, from naked mole rats to large snakes. After that, we toured the gift shop, wrapped up our exploration through the exhibits, and headed outside to a large, open courtyard where the whole group met and had lunch, which also provided a good time for socialization.


When lunch was through, we traveled to the Boeing IMAX Theater to watch Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. The movie turned out to be action packed, and it was enjoyed by many of the Scholars and staff alike. The IMAX provided a brilliant picture and invigorating surround sound, which completed the movie experience. Following the exciting film, we traveled to the Adobe Laser House to view a unique Beatles Laser Show, which played classic Beatles songs, accompanied by a rhythmic laser show, adding a visual to the classic music. Following the show, we left for the busses and came back to the University of Washington. Wow! What a great day.

Outdoors for All

Vanessa, Phase I Scholar

For two hours on a temperate evening, DO-IT Scholars and Interns cut figure eights in a parking lot and raced each other on a nearby bike trail. Outdoors For All had come to the University of Washington for DO-IT's Summer Study!

Outdoors For All brought a truck full of bikes, both regular and adaptive, types that some Scholars had never seen before. There were ten-gear mountain tricycles, tricycles with wide seats, hand-operated tricycles, bikes with chair-backed seats, pedals designed for extra safety with straps, and other variations. One bike was set up so that it would not coast under any circumstances. One of the most interesting bikes was a two-seater that was pedaled with the riders legs positioned nearly straight out, and steered by handles and handbrakes located beneath the seat. One Scholar who is blind, rode that bike and she really enjoyed it. We all appreciated the diversity of the bikes, which allowed everyone to participate, no matter the nature of their disability.

The evening air rushing by us as we pedaled around the UW was most enjoyable!