DO-IT News September 2001

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Volume 9, Number 2

Below are the articles of the DO-IT News September 2001 newsletter. These articles can also be seen all on one page at the Full Newsletter option.

Director's Digressions

Sheryl Burgstahler

Meet the 2001 Scholars

The ninth annual DO-IT Summer Study program for high school students with disabilities took place in August. Twenty new DO-IT Scholars are funded by the State of Washington, three Washington Scholars are funded by the Boeing Company and one Florida Scholar, Jacob, is funded by NASA.

Jacob joins us from Gulf Breeze, Florida. He likes math, but his favorite subject is zoology because he likes studying and working with animals. He wants to go to college and major in zoology and minor in botany and veterinary medicine. After college he wants to work as a zoologist. Jacob, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, is in the school band and won an award for both his solo and ensemble performances.

Brad is from Sammamish. He enjoys studying math and science in school and hopes to obtain a Master's degree in either subject someday. His career goals include becoming a mathematical or scientific researcher. Brad has Attention Deficit Disorder and a learning disability.

Brandi's favorite courses are Language Arts and Earth Science. To achieve her career goals in veterinary medicine and creative writing she hopes to attend Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. Brandi, who comes to us from Enumclaw, has a hearing impairment.

2001 DO-IT Scholars with DO-IT Director Sheryl Burgstahler
Scholar Nick works on fossil rubbings with director Sheryl Burgstahler and volunteer Katie during Summer Study 2000.

Chris has won many academic awards and honors including the Gold Medal of Achievement and the District Outstanding Student Award. He participates in many extra-curricular activities including student council (he is the student body treasurer), the D.A.R.E. Program, and FCF Wilderness, and has also found time to letter in football as a team statistician. His favorite course is math. Chris, who has muscular dystrophy, comes from Kelso.

Trisha enjoys history and math. She hopes to go to college to be an education major with an endorsement in special education. She wants to minor in history. Trisha, who has a learning disability, is a member of the National Honor Society and has been on the honor roll. She has also lettered in cheerleading at White Swan High in her hometown of White Swan.

Alexandra wants to go to a four-year college after she graduates from high school in Sumner. She says that being deaf, "doesn't really effect my learning." She enjoys using technology to correspond with her friends.

Sarah is from Redmond. She has received academic honors including Awards for Scholastic Excellence two years in a row. Her favorite academic subjects are English and Spanish and she hopes to become an interpreter in a hospital one day. She also enjoys Shakespeare and mythology. Sarah has a mobility impairment called fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva.

Steven loves math "because it is very logical." His educational goal is to go to college and get a Master's degree in architecture. He plays wheelchair basketball and enjoys golf, swimming and skiing.

Matt grew up on a ranch and has his own small flock of sheep. He has started raising money for his college education by selling his most outstanding lambs to other FFA and 4-H kids for local livestock shows. He wants to go to a four-year college and earn a degree in business management. After college, he plans to work in the family business. Matt, who has a learning disability, comes from Goldendale, WA and counts Natural Resources and Construction Tech among his favorite subjects.

Caleb plans to start off at a two-year college and then transfer to a 4-year university. His favorite subjects are global studies and science but he wants to pursue a career in computers or electronics. Caleb, who is blind, comes from Bow and enjoys "communicating with other high school students with disabilities to see what their goals are and what they are doing to achieve them."

Brandon plans on "at least four years of college" in computer software engineering. His career goal is to be a computer programmer and someday design video games. In school he enjoys math and computers and wants to learn about HTML and Web design. Brandon, who is quadriplegic, is from Seattle.

DO-IT Director Sheryl Burgstahler with Phase II DO-IT Scholars in a circle.
Dr. Burgstahler, DO-IT director, facilitates a role-playing exercise with associate professor Dr. Jane Kennedy and DO-IT Scholars.

Matthew hopes to pursue a career in computer animation in the entertainment industry and, to that end, plans to attend college on the West Coast, preferably UCLA. His favorite subjects are science and computers. Matthew, who has muscular dystrophy, comes from Vancouver.

Alicia enjoys English and U.S. history. She likes to read and write. She wants to go to college after she graduates from high school. Her career goal is to become a teacher, a psychologist, or a social worker. Alicia, who has a learning disability, has been on the honor roll twice and has earned a varsity letter in track. She comes from Toppenish.

Amy, who has cerebral palsy, comes from Snohomish. She is on the honor roll at her school. Her favorite classes are English and math. After high school, she would like to go to college to study business. Amy wants to have a career where she can help others, possibly as a social worker or an elementary school teacher.

Michael would like to work for a software company someday writing computer games. His favorite subjects in school are math and Japanese. He plans to go to college and get a degree in computer science. Michael, who has Asperger syndrome, is from Shoreline.

Elizabeth likes to meet other college-bound students with disabilities. Her favorite subjects are English and history. She has been writing short stories and poetry since she was very little. She has contributed essays and articles to several local newspapers and magazines, and has already won several academic awards. Elizabeth, who has cerebral palsy, wants to go to a community college and then transfer to a university. She joins us from Shelton.

DO-IT Scholar Gretchen looking apprehensively at a lab experiment.
DO-IT Scholar Gretchen is a little uncertain in a summer study science lab.

Brandon enjoys English and his career goals include becoming an English teacher. Brandon also enjoys studying Spanish. He wants to go to the University of Washington after high school. Brandon comes from Kent.

Jeff isn't sure yet what he wants to do as a career. He enjoys math and computer programming. He sees computer programming as an art form because "it's a good way to express what's in my heart." He wants to go to a four-year college to study math or computer science, and then plans to go to graduate school. Jeff, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and dyslexia, is from Pullman.

Raechell is from Woodinville. She enjoys studying math and business law in school because they are "interesting" and "important to know in every day life." Her educational goal is to go to college and study teaching so that she can become an elementary school teacher.

Lauren would like to pursue a health career. She plans on attending a community college and then transferring to a university. She enjoys e-mailing and talking with her friends and shopping at the mall. Lauren, who has neurofibromatosis, comes from Issaquah.

Chris is interested in computer-aided drafting and other engineering occupations. He plays football in the fall, wrestles in the winter, and works as an umpire in the spring. His favorite subjects are English and history. Chris, who has attention deficit disorder, plans to become a lawyer, history teacher, or a police officer. He joins us from Aberdeen.

Advice to New Scholars

The DO-IT Ambassadors

A primary role of DO-IT Ambassadors, who are young adults who were once DO-IT Scholars, is to share their experiences and advice with the younger Scholars. As an example, here is advice Ambassadors recently gave via electronic mail to the new Scholars as they prepared to attend their first Summer Study on the University of Washington campus.

Picture of Raleigh and Deke working a puzzle.
Scholars Raleigh and Deke solve a science puzzle.

Welcome aboard. Be ready for the best trip of your life. You'll gain new knowledge, skills, abilities, strategies, and friends. In planning your trip to Summer Study, bring along something that you would like to share with your peers. You all have special talents, skills, knowledge, abilities, interests, and hobbies. There will be opportunities to tell everyone something about what makes you who you are. The best things you can bring with you you can't pack in a suitcase — an open heart and mind and a winning attitude that will help you fully participate in the DO-IT experience. Yes, you will be the one that will make this a memorable time in your life by participation and sharing.
  • At Summer Study 2001 you need to be prepared to give it your all. As one who has gone through Phase I & II and been an Intern, I can tell you all from my own personal experience that these days will be some of the most memorable of your entire life. Every waking moment will be busy time and you will be awake more of the time that you are probably accustomed to.
  • Don't worry about going hungry, there will be lots of food around in-between meals — plenty of snacking stuff to keep your energy up. And yes, you will need lots of energy. The pace is in real time, just like it will be when you are in college. So if you are used to being a slow poke you are in for a big change in pace. Now that I have completed two years of university studies taking a full course load of sciences, I appreciate the reality check the Summer Study schedule gave me.
  • You might want to pack some of your favorite pictures and you may want to bring along an inexpensive camera to take pictures of your new friends to be able to show your friends and family when you return home from Summer Study. If you have a talent of any kind you may want to bring along your music, perhaps an instrument, your dancing shoes or whatever you need to be able to perform for your peers when the Scholars put on their own entertainment.
  • Everything is fun at Summer Study including all the things you will be learning. There will be binders for everyone, DO-IT shirts, and even book bags for those who need them to hang on their wheelchairs. There will be a wealth of information on all the things you need to know and more. These handouts are valuable because you can share the contents with your family, friends, and, yes, even your teachers. The great part is that you have a reference to refer to when you return home.
  • Some of you may have personal care attendants who will be assisting you as they always do and the great thing is that they will have just as much fun as you do. DO-IT is a very positive experience and it is expected that you will participate to the level of your fullest potential, using aides only when necessary. There is this thing called "learned helplessness." This occurs when you expect others to do things for you that you can easily do for yourself. If you are trying something new, try to do as much as you can and have your attendant assist you when you truly need the help. You will find that your peers won't tolerate or respect someone who does not even try to do as much as they can for themselves.
  • I feel that the DO-IT program is the same thing in my life as a single component is to a computer. Like a computer with all the different components that are wired together to shape a computer, we need different lessons, different challenges, and different experiences all linked together to make up our lives and who we basically are as people. Learn something different each day — at DO-IT Summer Study and for the rest of your life.
  • I have been involved with DO-IT since 1998 and it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. You will find that after two weeks with some of the smartest people you'll ever meet you'll have friends for life. Everyone is there with the focused goal of making you succeed. In addition, I can say to the new Phase I Scholars that your group of Phase II Scholars is truly awesome and should be good mentors to you.
  • Learning to advocate for yourself is the most important lesson you will have to learn and it can be one of the toughest to learn because others who may mean well will interfere. Over time, you come to know the difference between what is possible and what is not possible for you to do. Others around you need to learn that too. They may not know if you do not tell them.
    Picture of Sheryl, Sarah, and Michael.
    Phase I Scholar Sarah with DO-IT staff Sheryl Burgstahler and Michael Richardson at Summer Study 2001.
  • DO-IT is a transition program that helps you learn the skills, knowledge, abilities, and human rights to take you from one level to the next level — in this case, from high school to postsecondary education. In high school, one is not yet an adult legally. However, as one enters postsecondary education one is at the point of becoming an adult in the full sense of the word, which means that you have the responsibilities of an adult. In assuming these responsibilities, there are so many things you will have to learn to do or advocate for help in getting them done. In this learning process, one has to recognize the resources or potential resources that will allow them to get things done. You are often your own very best resource if you prepare yourself well with all of the learning materials and experiences offered in the DO-IT program. Knowing yourself well is very important. There are many realities one must accept. Denial of potentials and of limitations puts you in a vulnerable position that could lead to unnecessary failure instead of success.
  • For all of you 2001 Phase I Scholars, welcome. You will have a blast at DO-IT. It is a lot of fun throughout the year when you are e-mailing and chatting with your DO-IT friends.


Sheryl Burgstahler

Transition to college is not just a challenge for students with disabilities. It is a challenge for parents as well. Below is a sample of some of the advice parents of DO-IT Scholars have given to one another as part of their active discussion list.

  • My advice sounds simple, but believe me it was one of the hardest things to do. It is time, mom and dad . . . to encourage your child to learn to take the lead. For many of us, our child's success in school has depended on how well we have learned to navigate the "system". It is time to pass those hard won skills on to our kids. The next year or two of high school is the prefect time for them to practice the skills needed to advocate for themselves in the "real world." DO-IT will give them all kinds of ideas on this. Let them negotiate with their teachers; let them follow up on concerns; let them take the lead in IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings; let them problem solve as much as possible on their own. Be a support person; be a mentor; but let them be in charge.
  • For us this approach is really evident as the transition to college is happening. Our son has handled all contact with the disability support services at the university by himself. Wow . . .my job was to get the disability documentation paperwork gathered up, and help brainstorm with him about what needed to be done before school started. He took care of it from there.
  • The university that my daughter plans to attend has been exceptional with assisting her with her needs. But as she prepares for school in the fall, I find myself running scenarios through my head about all the things that could go wrong. I have to remind myself that she did pretty well while she was in the DO-IT program on campus, and that left to her own devices, she will manage. It helps alleviate some of my fears, but letting go is still difficult. I appreciate the input from other parents and will continue to say my prayers for my daughter and all the kids dealing with managing their lives.

DO-IT Dictionary

Confused by some of the DO-IT lingo? Here's a dictionary of some of the DO-IT terms.

adaptive (é-dap'tiv) adj. technology (têk-nôl'è-jee) n. Specialized equipment and software that allows people with disabilities to use computers and networks.

DID-IT (did-it) n. Past tense of DO-IT.

DO-IT (doo-it) n. Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology, a project to increase the participation of people with disabilities in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology academic programs and careers.

DO-IT Ambassador (doo-it- am-bas'é-dér, -dôr') n. A previous Scholar who graduated from high school and now continues to participate in DO-IT by helping the program and guiding younger Scholars.

DO-IT Intern (doo-it- in'turn) n. A previous Scholar who applies for and earns a position working in DO-IT Summer Study.

DO-IT Mentor (doo-it- mën'tôr', -tèr) n. An adult who is in college or a career who helps Scholars and Ambassadors as they pursue academics and careers. The address of their discussion list is

DO-IT News (doo-it- nooz, nyooz) n. The DO-IT newsletter that features stories, articles, and events about the DO-IT program, participants, and disability-related issues.

DO-IT Summer Study (doo-it- sûm'ér- stûd'ee) n. A live-in summer program at the University of Washington in Seattle where DO-IT Scholars participate in science, engineering, and mathematics lectures and labs; live in residence halls; and practice skills which will help them to be independent and successful in college and careers.

doitkids (doo-itkids) n. The name of the electronic list that includes DO-IT Scholars and Ambassadors. The full address is

doitsem (doo-itsêm') n. The discussion list for anyone interested in promoting the inclusion of people with disabilities in challenging careers such as those in science, engineering, and mathematics. The Internet address is You can join the list by sending a message to In the message text type "subscribe doitsem" followed by your name.

NSF (en- es- ef) n. The National Science Foundation. A grant from the NSF was used to begin the DO-IT program in 1992.

Phase I Scholar (fâz- wûn- sköl'ér) n. A high school student from the time they are accepted into the DO-IT Scholars program through the completion of their first Summer Study at the University of Washington.

Phase II Scholar (fâz- too- sköl'ér) n. Phase I graduates who continue their DO-IT participation through the second Summer Study at the University of Washington.

Phase III Scholar (fâz- three-sköl'ér ) n. Phase II graduates who retain this title until they attend college and become a DO-IT Ambassador.

You can DO-IT! (yoo- kan; ken when unstressed- doo-it) The DO-IT motto.

DO-IT Prof Does It Again in Seattle

Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.
Picture of the 2001 DO-IT Prof team members.
DO-IT Prof team meets in Seattle.

The DO-IT Prof project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education (grant #P333A9900042), conducted its second collaborative meeting in Seattle February 13-16. Seventeen states were represented:

New Mexico
North Carolina

During this working meeting, DO-IT Prof team members edited presentation and Web-based materials that they have been working on for a year. These materials are tailored to help postsecondary faculty nationwide more fully include students with disabilities in their classes. This project, like many others, leverages off of the state funds provided to support DO-IT efforts in Washington.

Scholars Conduct Usability/Accessibility Tests with Support from Microsoft

Deb Cronheim
Picture of DO-IT Technology Specialist Doug and DO-IT Scholar Ryan doing maintenance to a hard drive.
Doug Hayman, DO-IT technology specialist, demonstrates hardware maintenance with the help of Scholar Ryan.

This summer, Phase II Scholars advanced access to computers for individuals with disabilities by conducting software usability tests. Thanks to a gift from Microsoft and collaborations with UW Technical Communications and Computer Science departments, DO-IT offered a new Phase II workshop: XP Operating Usability Testing. Students tested the new operating system and measured results in the UW's LUTE (Laboratory for Usability and Testing Evaluation). They paid particular attention to the accessibility of the product by accessing XP with a variety of adaptive technologies. Test results will be considered in the development of future versions of XP and other software.

Thanks to Microsoft for helping students with disabilities gain "real-world" work experience and working to make their products universally accessible.






DO-IT Does It Somewhere Else

Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.

DO-IT has relocated to south campus at the University of Washington. You'll find us on the ground floor of 3737 Brooklyn Avenue N.E. A special thanks goes to Cascade Sign Company for the donation and installation of the signage for our new space. If you're in the area, stop by and check out DO-IT's new home.

DO-IT Kids Go to Work

Michael Richardson

The DO-IT CAREERS/K-12 project is funded by the U.S. Department of Education (grant #H324M990010) to encourage the participation of middle and high school students with disabilities in work-based learning programs. As part of this project we created two new videos, one for young people with disabilities and one for parents, teachers, and mentors.

Learn and Earn: Tips for Teens
Students with disabilities show how they benefit from work-based learning experiences.

Learn and Earn: Supporting Teens
Parents, teachers, and mentors encourage and support teens with disabilities to participate in work-based learning.

Each of these videotapes can be purchased for $25, including shipping and handling. Or, you can purchase the two of them plus a third video for employers, Finding Gold: Hiring the Best and the Brightest, in a combination titled CAREERS/K-12 3-Pack for just $40. As with most of our DO-IT videotapes, DO-IT Scholars and other participants are the stars of the shows!

If you would like more information on the DO-IT CAREERS/K-12 project, contact Michael Richardson at 206-685-3648 or

Making a Successful Transition from Two- to Four-Year Colleges

Sheryl Burgstahler and Lyla Crawford
Picture of Michael and Todd at a lab table performing an experiment.
Michael and Todd at a genetics workshop.

Students with disabilities in two-year colleges are often unsuccessful in making the transition to four-year schools. As part of its DO-IT 2-4 project, which is funded by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), DO-IT undertook a study to document the concerns of students with disabilities in two-year institutions of higher education as they transfer to four-year schools, the perceptions of faculty and staff members regarding the challenges these students face, and recommended steps that can be taken to improve the postsecondary outcomes of these transfer students.

A survey addressed to disabled student services offices nationwide was completed by three hundred fifty-one people. In addition, twenty-one faculty and staff from seven postsecondary institutions participated in focus groups. Participants reported some of the challenges faced by transfer students to be adjusting to the differences in academic requirements and support services, having poor study and self-advocacy skills, securing financial support, working through the transfer process, and adjusting to a larger, less personal environment.

One hundred nineteen college students with disabilities also completed a survey. Students with disabilities reported their concerns to include differences in disabled student services, the cost of programs, skills in self-advocacy, differences in social life, availability of educational accommodations, access to technology, and the transfer process.

This study also reports suggestions from postsecondary faculty and staff about how two-year and four-year colleges can work separately and together to improve the postsecondary outcomes of transfer students with disabilities. They can be classified into three categories: preparation activities at the two-year level, linkage activities between two-year to four-year schools, and reception activities within the four-year institution. Focus group participants recommended that a staff member be assigned at each four-year school to facilitate activities that promote the academic and career success of transfer students with disabilities. Other proposed intervention activities include:

  • Preparation: Encourage transfer students to select and apply to four-year schools early; help students develop transition plans, work through the transfer process, and develop self-advocacy skills; and educate two-year college staff about transfer issues faced by students with disabilities.
  • Linkage: Help two-year and four-year institutions share information about policies, procedures, programs, and services; include transfer information for students with disabilities in publications, orientations, and Web sites; coordinate four-year college campus visits for students with disabilities; have staff of four-year schools attend two-year college career/transfer "fairs" and other events to share information with students and staff; create a summary sheet of intake and documentation requirements for all state schools; and develop a handoff system, whereby staff working with a student at a two-year school refers that student to a specific staff member at the four-year school.
  • Reception: Educate staff on four-year campuses about issues specific to community college transfer students with disabilities; tailor orientation sessions for students with disabilities; include information about services for students with disabilities in all general student orientations and tours, student handbooks, publications, programs, and Web sites; and support transfer students during their stay at the four-year schools with tutoring, mentoring, and other services.

In conclusion, students with disabilities in two-year colleges face challenges as they transition to four-year schools. Some are similar to those faced by their non-disabled peers. Some challenges, however, are related to their disabilities. For example, some students lack skills in self-advocacy, while others have difficulty adjusting to the differences in disabled student services between the two types of schools. To improve the postsecondary outcomes and, ultimately, career outcomes for people with disabilities, staff members at both two-year and four-year schools should take action to make their campus services more supportive of this important transition.

For more information on this topic, a videotape and handout entitled Moving On: The Two-Four Step can be purchased from DO-IT at a cost of $25, including postage and handling.

Acknowledgement: The study described in this article was supported by grant #P116B71441 from the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) of the U.S. Department of Education. The opinions, positions, and recommendations expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the federal government.

Top Eleven Things We Like About DO-IT

Elizabeth and Raechell
  1. We make new friends who have disabilities similar to or different from ours.
  2. We work together to solve problems.
  3. Even though we have to work harder than everyone else, we expect to succeed.
  4. We learn how to socialize with other disabled students.
  5. We gain confidence in people who have disabilities.
  6. We learn how to be independent.
  7. We take fun field trips.
  8. We get a sense of college life and college pace.
  9. We learn how to advocate for ourselves, expressing our disabilities and the accommodations we will need to be successful.
  10. We learn that we can be successful if we put our minds to it and work hard.
  11. The whole experience is very enjoyable!

DO-IT Program Receives Outstanding Program Award from AHEAD

DO-IT was honored with the outstanding program award from AHEAD (The Association on Higher Education and Disability). It was given to us in recognition of our efforts and in helping people with disabilities succeed in postsecondary education and careers. Highlighted was our work in the area of promoting access to computers, the Internet, and assistive technology as empowering tools. Sheryl Burgstahler, DO-IT Director, was the lucky one who accepted the award on behalf of the DO-IT staff, participants, and mentors. It was presented at AHEAD's annual conference in July, which was hosted this year in Portland, OR. AHEAD is an international, multicultural organization of professionals committed to full participation in higher education for persons with disabilities. It is the professional organization of directors and counselors who provide services to students with disabilities on postsecondary campuses.

1994 Scholar Anthony congratulated DO-IT in this way: "Congratulations for yet another award for excellence! I know that my mother often tells people that she believes that I wouldn't be where I'm at today if it wasn't for the DO-IT program. It isn't just the Scholars, Pals, and Mentors who are benefiting by the teachings at DO-IT; it's also the people who come into contact with us like employers. In my case, it's even customers with disabilities and rehabilitation professionals who are also benefiting from my DO-IT days. I believe that there's another lesson to be learned here — whenever you have a program that can benefit many more people than what it was designed to do, you have a program that can and should be a role model to others."

DO-IT Profiles

DO-IT Pal Profile

by Anna

I live in Brooklyn, New York and recently graduated from high school. While in high school, I was the Executive Liaison in Student Government for Students with Disabilities. I'm interested in meeting people with similar ideas as well as being exposed to new ideas and cultures different than my own. I plan to attend college, either the University of Pennsylvania or New York University. I try to be an excellent role model for other DO-IT participants. [Note: If you are a teenager with a disability who has college as a goal, join the DO-IT Pals electronic community by requesting an application at]

DO-IT 2-4 Profile

by Kjersti

I am Kjersti, a 20-year old student at Tacoma Community College (TCC). I have spastic quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy (CP) that requires me to use a wheelchair. I can also use a walker, but the chair gives me the highest level of independence. Having CP has indeed shaped my life, especially my goals for education and employment. I wish to become a special education teacher at the high school level.

I enjoy reading (anything other than sci-fi or romances), drawing, working with people, and listening to music. For physical activities, I enjoy swimming, playing basketball, and riding horses. I love to be outside — the Northwest is truly beautiful! Oh, and as a true Northwesterner, I am a caffeine addict . . . I am truly dependent on coffee!

I am currently working on my Associate's degree at TCC. I plan on transferring to Seattle Pacific University upon completion of this degree and majoring in special education. I feel that as a person with a disability, I understand the needs of other disabled students. I hope to be able to offer my future students encouragement, empathy, and insight, because I too share the challenge of being disabled!

DO-IT Staff Profile

by Cynthia McAuliffe

Picture of DO-IT staffer Cynthia with her dog.
Cynthia McAuliffe, DO-IT Staff Member, enjoys the sunshine with her dog Seamus.

I've worked for the DO-IT program for the past three summers. I travel to camps for young people with disabilities and set up computer labs. Then I train staff to help campers access the Internet, so they can surf to many interesting sites and send e-mail. I have been to camps in Wisconsin, Florida, California, and Washington. I am always eager to see which states I get to visit each summer and which camp friends I can see again.

During the school year, I work for the Puyallup School District as an assistive technology specialist and coordinator of the Medically Fragile/Home-Hospital Programs. I have over 23 years of experience in education, and have seen the birth of assistive technology. I have worked in school districts in Oregon (where I grew up) and in Washington. I live in Puyallup, Washington, but frequently visit my other home in Portland, Oregon. My golden retriever, Seamus, allows me to take him with me when I travel by car.




Tech Tips: Hoax or Virus?

Dan Comden

Email-based viruses have been big news lately. The propagation of these nefarious organisms has been well covered in mainstream media. Most big name viruses spread through activation of scripts in Outlook™ and Outlook Express™ — e-mail programs made by Microsoft. Many cause little damage to individual computers, but, because they reproduce quickly by sending mail to all addresses in the victim's address book, they can cause networks to overload to the point of being shut down. Others can be quite destructive - not only spreading quickly but deleting files as well. These types of viruses are initiated by opening an attached infected file that most often has a .vbs extension in its file name.

I should point out that e-mail viruses rarely affect those using Macintosh or Linux operating systems. It's not that these platforms are more resistant to the nasty bugs — they can be just as susceptible. Because the Windows platform is so popular, more viruses are written for this larger target.

Another category of e-mail virus is the hoax. This virus is propagated by people. Hoaxes can be false or incorrect warnings about viruses, or fake announcements of prizes or special programs. The key element of these hoaxes is that they contain an instruction for the recipient to send e-mail to "everyone you know" or a variant of that phrase. These viruses usually don't cause damage but a recent version instructs the recipient to delete a particular file found in the Windows operating system — a file that is needed. Regardless, you should not forward hoaxes. Though they rarely cause harm, the amount of time used by recipients to verify information is wasteful.

How do you protect yourself from hoaxes and other viruses? Your most important first line of defense is your brain. Use common sense in opening attachments and forwarding possible hoaxes. If you receive an attachment in e-mail, don't open it unless you are expecting it. It's a good idea to check with the sender before opening it to make sure they intended to send you the file. If it's not from someone you know you should not open the file. Valid virus warnings will not have the phrase "forward this to everyone you know" in the text of the message.

The next most important tool is good anti-virus software. Make sure it is installed and active when you start your computer and update it frequently. Many anti-virus programs can be set to automatically update virus definitions — once a week or even daily is a good time frame for this. The University of Washington uses ViruScan™ from Network Associates.

If you receive an announcement of a virus, or an offer that seems too good to be true, you should check first and verify the accuracy of the information. Good up-to-date information can be found at and [Editor's note: resource is no longer available.]

Practice safe computing and you should have few problems with hoaxes and other viruses.

The Thread: Pre-employment Exams and People Who are Blind

Lyla Mae Crawford, counselor/coordinator

In our on-line community, DO-IT Mentors share useful advice with DO-IT Scholars, Ambassadors and Pals, who are high school and college students with disabilities. Below, we share an edited version of two discussions where Mentors (most of them blind) share advice with an Ambassador who is blind about taking pre-employment exams.

Question One:

Picture of DO-IT Phase II Scholar Israel on a bike with DO-IT staff member James holding the handlebars.
DO-IT staff member James O' Connor helps Phase II Scholar Israel ride a bike.

Ambassador: Hi all. I am currently trying to get a job for a large technical support company. This job requires taking an examination on Internet Service Providers, which I have gained some knowledge about over the years. The problem is that the company doesn't have the staff to read the examination to me and I don't know of anyone else who can do it. I do have relatives on the side of town where the business is located, but all of them work during the week. Does anyone have any recommendations for completing the examination? Thanks.

Mentor 1: It's possible (especially since this is a high-tech company) that they have it on disk. Is there reason why you can't use a computer to fill it out?

Ambassador: Yes, I could use a computer to fill it out if I could just acquire the equipment I need to get speech access. Do you think the human resources director would allow me to install speech-access equipment on a workstation, if she doesn't have enough staff?

Mentor 1: Who knows? They might even allow you to take it home. Also consider leveraging off your state department for the blind. They may have volunteers.

Mentor 2: How about downloading and using a copy of [speech and software product] on their machine?

Ambassador: I never thought of that! That's a really good idea! This option would require a couple things:

  • The director is willing to allow that.
  • The workstation has a sound card to function as the speech system. If not, she might allow the installation of a portable speech synthesizer. I am willing to bring headphones with me to keep the background audio away if necessary.
Picture of Jacob on a bike.
Jacob yells "Look mom, no hands!" as he tries out an adapted bicycle at Summer Study 2001.

Mentor 1: Hi. I think you should present the situation in a positive manner. The employer may not have seen anyone use the kinds of adaptive technology you use. Your using it for the test may give them the opportunity to not only test your skills, as they would other applicants, but also see what strategies you may use to perform the requirements of the position.

Mentor 2: Also, I think that you can view going through a testing situation like this as an opportunity for you to find out how flexible and accommodating the company is, and for the company to see how to handle situations like that. It might be worthwhile to approach the human resources person directly and make the various suggestions that have come up in this discussion, and ask which would work for them as well as indicate the method you would prefer. Often, employers don't have many ideas of how to accommodate a person with a disability, and it is up to you to make suggestions and work out a solution. This is a great opportunity to demonstrate your ability to ask for accommodations you need, to show that you can perform the required tasks when accommodated, and to demonstrate your problem-solving skills.

Postscript: The Ambassador worked out a solution with the employer with the help of his state's Commission for the Blind.

The Browser: Our Calendar of Events

World Congress and Exposition on Disabilities
September 28-30, 2001
Atlanta, GA
Conference brings together opinion leaders in science, medicine, technology, product development, and care giving.

The Second International Conference for Parents with Disabilities and Their Families
October 11-14, 2001
Oakland, CA
Hosted by Through the Looking Glass-the National Resource for Parents of Children with Disabilities
510-848-1112 ext.110

Closing the Gap
October 16-20, 2001
Minneapolis, MN
Computer technology in special education and rehabilitation

October 24, 2001
Seattle, WA.
7th annual access job fair and assistive technology resources fair.

NSTA (National Science Teacher Association) Area Convention
October 25-27, 2001
Boise, ID
Science and education forum for science educators.

Fifth Annual Collaborative Conference: Achieving New Heights with Assistive Technology, A Rocky Mountain Regional Collaboration
November 1-3, 2001
Denver, CO

WSTA (Washington State Science Teacher Association) Convention
November 1-3, 2001
Yakima, WA
Science teachers conference.

2001 Annual TASH Conference
"Imaging the Future"
November 14-17, 2001
Anaheim, CA
A conference for advocates, educators, and leaders in the quest for full inclusion and participation for all people with disabilities.

Cooperating School Districts
Midwest Education and Technology Conference
January 28-30, 2002
St. Louis, MO
Education and technology conference.
(314) 692-1250 or (800) 835-8282

LDA 2002 International Conference
February 13-16, 2002
New York Hilton in New York, NY
Issues related to learning disabilities, including advocacy, assessment, instruction, and technology.

NCCE 2002 (Northwest Council for Computer Education)
March 13-16, 2002
Seattle, WA
Conference which supports the use of computers in education.

CSUN (California State University Northridge)
March 18-23, 2002
Los Angeles, CA
Technology and persons with disabilities.

NSTA (National Science Teacher Association) National Convention
March 27-30, 2002
San Diego, CA
Science and education forum for science educators.

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