Director's Digressions

Picture of director Sheryl Burgstahler  and interpreter Mamoru Iwabuch
Director Sheryl Burgstahler and interpreter Mamoru Iwabuch

Summer Study 2001 with the new and returning DO-IT Scholars, Ambassadors, and Interns was the highlight of last summer. Check out some of the articles in this issue of DO-IT News and you will see why!

The highlight of this fall for me was a trip to Japan to spread the word about how technology can help people with disabilities succeed in college and careers. The adventure began with an invitation from the organizers of the fifth annual Assistive Technology Conference in Kyoto to deliver the keynote address on Saturday, November 24. My husband Dave, son Travis, and I decided to move our Thanksgiving dinner plans to the Sunday before Thanksgiving day so that we could travel to Kyoto together. In preparation, I wrote a summary paper for the proceedings and developed a PowerPoint™ presentation. I sent each to the conference organizers early so that they could be translated into Japanese.

To reach Kyoto, we took a plane to Tokyo, a commuter train to the Tokyo train station, a train to Kyoto city and then light rail to our hotel. This took a total of about 15 hours! The conference is similar to the Closing the Gap conference on assistive technology that is in Minneapolis each year—exhibits, presentations, lots of networking. The 1,000 attendees represented pre-college and college educators, service providers, nonprofit organizations, and family members of people with disabilities.


My talk focused on what types of services are typically provided on postsecondary campuses for students with disabilities in the United States. I spoke two sentences at a time and then my interpreter, Mamoru Iwabuch, translated what was said into Japanese. Luckily, he left English titles on my PowerPoint slides, so we could both keep track of where we were in the talk. I gave my interpreter an Ichiro Mariners baseball cap and shared extra copies of the article that appeared on the front page of The Seattle Times, announcing Ichiro's award as the Most Valuable Player in the American League. It was clear from the reaction that, besides promoting the success of people with disabilities in each of our countries, we shared a mutual admiration for this remarkable Mariners player from Japan.