DO-IT News January 2000: All Articles

This page features all the articles from the DO-IT News January 2000 newsletter. This newsletter can also be viewed article by article on the DO-IT News January 2000 page.

Director's Digressions

Meet the '99 Scholars!

Picture of Sheryl Burgstahler
DO-IT Director, Sheryl Burgstahler

In August we finished our seventh annual DO-IT Summer Study program for high school students with disabilities. Twenty new DO-IT Scholars were funded by the State of Washington. One Scholar from Oregon was funded by the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation.

Let me introduce you to the '99 Phase I Scholars.

Roy, who has Duchenne muscular dystrophy, hails from Hoquiam and is interested in history, math, and computers. As a freshman, he designed a wheelchair ramp which was later built by his school. He is an Eagle Scout, a member of the Honor Society, and a World Class Scholar. "I enjoy learning new things and meeting different people."

Mi Mi's favorite class is science because "it relates to the outside world." To further her goal of becoming an environmental specialist, Mi Mi worked as an assistant for the Department of Natural Resources, Geological Division, last year. Mi Mi has dyslexia and, through DO-IT, has enjoyed meeting other teens with disabilities who are willing to "reach farther for their education."

Crystal is active in 4-H and the Future Farmers of America. She has received a 4-H Achievement Award and a Certificate of Excellence in Computer Service and has completed her Teacher Assistant Inservice Training. Crystal, who has speech and mobility impairments, wants to become a physical therapist. "I feel I can help other kids to make their dreams come true, like my coaches and family made mine come true."

Danielle is an experienced computer user who came to us from Cashmere. Danielle, whose disability is the result of childhood cancer, says English is her favorite subject. "I would like to find out what opportunities are out there for me."

David lives in Seattle and loves math and games, particularly Backgammon. During Summer Study, David enjoyed meeting other people who have disabilities, exchanging ideas, and playing board games.

Oscar, from Yakima, is interested in science and computers. Oscar, whose disability affects mobility, is preparing to go on to college once he graduates from high school. "It doesn't matter how big the disability is, you can do whatever you want in life as long as you try."

Joel is interested in "how things interact together and why they work the way they do." He enjoys being challenged academically and would like to get his degree in a science or engineering field. Joel, who has dyslexia, is a member of the Honor Society. He came to us from Grandview.

J.W., from Moses Lake, is interested in art and computers and would like to pursue a career in computer-aided drafting or video game programming. Recognizing that Duchenne muscular dystrophy slows him down in some ways but not in others, J.W. says "I am limited to what I can do physically, but not mentally."

Patrick hails from Spokane and is interested in math and psychology. Patrick, who has a specific learning disability, has his sights set on graduating from college and possibly becoming a family therapist. He enjoys helping people.

Brandon, who has a hearing impairment, says, "I love to build things with my mind, and watch them be created for real." From Kettle Falls, he won a Northeast Washington All-Conference Academic Award.

Ryan hails from Aberdeen and is fascinated by airplanes. He would like to become an aerospace/aeronautical engineer and learn how to design better air and space craft. He is active in both 4-H and the Indian Education Committee. Ryan, who has a learning disability, says "It is nice to see other people out there with the same problem and know it's not just me."

Zachary is from Vashon Island and is interested in math and computers. He has Freeman-Sheldon syndrome. Zach loves to surf the 'Net and learns new computer programs quickly. He helps his mom with her new iMac and is on his way to becoming the family computer expert.

Stuart was born in Bulgaria and now lives on Vashon Island. He has Larsen's syndrome, which causes bone abnormalities. Stuart is interested in learning more about computers and science and is considering a career in computers. He enjoys corresponding with other people with disabilities.

Lacey hails from Seattle and has plans to pursue a career in adaptive computer technology or science research. She has cerebral palsy. "Lots of people don't think that disabled people (especially girls) can be good at math and science, but I am and I think the DO-IT program can help me have a better chance in the world."

Wolfgang's interests "lie in the direction of physics...I am constantly contemplating the state of my natural surroundings." He hopes to become a physicist and a writer. Wolfgang also enjoys surfing the 'Net and communicating via e-mail. Wolfgang, who is from Mount Vernon, has dyslexia and ADD. "I have little doubt that the DO-IT program will not only help me in finding a college but also give me the tools to make my college experience worthwhile."

Kelci came to us from Lind. She is interested in the areas of social service, health, and education and plans to go to a two-year college and then transfer to a university. Kelci has cerebral palsy. "Everyone has learned ways to cope with their disabilities and we can all learn from each other."

Tynesha is from Seattle. When she isn't helping run her school's store, Tynesha, who has spina bifida, enjoys acting and working as the school nurse's aide. Her ambitions include going to college and majoring in business management or theater.

Ali, from Lynnwood, enjoys science and likes to know "how things work." His career goal is to be a computer engineer, but he is also considering careers in law and architecture. Ali speaks three languages (Kurdish, Arabic, and English ) and just started learning Turkish. Osteogenesis imperfecta causes his bones to be brittle.

Kathy hails from Tacoma and enjoys Spanish and music courses. She is considering careers in nursing and sociology. Kathy has spina bifida, but it "doesn't affect my learning."

Nate is from Federal Way and is looking forward to going to college. He enjoys meeting people his own age who have disabilities. "If they have great obstacles to overcome it inspires me." Nate has low vision.

Buffy is very interested in math and science and loves to figure things out. She is from Oregon City, Oregon, and wants to play professional basketball, then teach math or science someday. Buffy is deaf. Her advice to other kids with disabilities is, "a lot of kids have struggles and obstacles in their lives and they are considering giving up. I would tell them, never ever give up!"

One Scholar's Experience

Joshua, '97 DO-IT Scholar
Picture of DO-IT Scholar Joshua
1997 DO-IT Scholar, Joshua

Getting Ready for DO-IT Summer Study
There are several things that must happen before the Summer Study begins. Phase I Scholars are outfitted with a computer and other adaptive technology that they need for efficient use of the computer because of their disabilities. The computer and its components arrive either before or with Doug Hayman or Dan Comden, the self-named "head technical nerds for DO-IT," who visit each Scholar's home. They assist in setting up the computer and explaining the methodology of establishing an electronic link to the Internetworking computer world. All Scholars are given assistance setting up an e-mail account they can use to communicate with the larger group of Scholars. This link to a much larger world also allows use of the Internet to gather information and to expand the experiences that the Scholars are exposed to from their own homes.

After one has received his or her computer and is linked to the world of e-mail and the Internet, all that is left is to go to Seattle and participate in the Summer Study. The transit from home to Seattle can be one of the most enjoyable experiences. It gives one a sense of independence when the voyage is made alone, traveling across the country or just across town to get to the University of Washington. It also forces one to think for himself or herself since there is not anyone else around to make the decisions.

When the week finally begins the Scholars are introduced to a series of classes and lectures, all dealing with different topics in the various fields of science and engineering. Others show how the skills that are learned in high school are applied in these fields. A more in-depth look into the world of the Internet is also explored during Summer Study.

There is ample opportunity for computer work during the open computer labs that are provided throughout the day. In these labs Scholars can check their e-mail, surf the Net, and work on assignments. Activities planned for the Scholars show that college is not just books and numbers, but some leisure is involved in the overall college experience. Scholars are expected to find or build small groups of peers for leisure activities and just hanging out. These groups provide a means for escape and just messing around throughout the week.

Before everyone leaves, a closing ceremony is held. The Phase II Scholars give their reports on the group projects they participated in and certificates are handed out. After the ceremony is over the participants are left to say their good-byes to all who were involved in the Summer Study. Leaving Seattle can be one of the hardest things to do for several reasons. First, your dorm room has managed to look like your room at home, and you have no clue how you are going to be able to pack everything in your bags. Second, the experience was so enjoyable that one would not wish to leave and continue his or her life before Summer Study.

After Summer Study, the Phase I Scholars complete a project before the next Summer Study. The project involves the individual's mathematics, science, engineering, and technology-related interests and/or a disability-related topic. E-mail communications are ongoing. Scholars are also encouraged to reach their highest potential in school to allow for many possibilities to be open to them when they leave high school.

What I have gained from DO-IT
DO-IT has been a worthwhile experience for me because it reinforced the ideas I had about college and about how to get through school with my learning disability.

Working for four years at an Easter Seals day camp and growing up with a sister with down syndrome have taught me a lot about interacting with individuals with disabilities, but being in the DO-IT program taught me how to confidently work with individuals who have physical disabilities or other disabilities that do not affect their intelligence. At first I was afraid to approach physically disabled participants in the program because I had never been around people like them. After a period of time and being forced to interact with them, I no longer had this fear. I could see that they were no different than I was. A lot of the participants were able to find humorous aspects in their disabilities. For example, Justin, who is blind, would say. "I can't see the TV. Can you move it closer?" I found it humorous when I woke up early in the morning to go running and was trying to be quiet, not to make any noise to wake up my deaf roommate.

DO-IT also allows for a feeling of independence. I felt exuberant when flying from the middle of Pennsylvania to Seattle, Washington, alone. This sudden independence allowed me to feel more responsible for myself. When I got to Seattle, I still was independent and responsible for my actions. At my first Summer Study, I lost my room key. I had to find a way to replace the key, but I didn't have enough money for the replacement fee. I had to call home to ask for money to be sent to the program director.

DO-IT also tries to teach participants to think for themselves by having them work by themselves and in small group activities. DO-IT did not provide answers for the problems that went along with the activities; we had to develop the answers. For my first Summer Study, we were put in small groups and each group was handed an identical cube with names and numbers on the different faces. One face was covered up, and we had to figure out what was on that face.

The DO-IT program introduces participants to many science fields during the Summer Study. Exploring these science fields helps participants know whether or not they are interested in a particular field of study. It helped me narrow down my choices of study for when I enter college. For example, during my first Summer Study we went to a lecture by a professor of astrophysics. I found that interesting because he talked about studying stars and other heavenly bodies, something I have always liked but never knew they called it astrophysics.

DO-IT gives its participants confidence to be self-advocates, so when they are off by themselves or away at college they will be able to state their disabilities and what it is that they need to help them work around them. Being in the program has helped me to understand the need to be a self-advocate for myself to make sure that I receive all of the accommodations that I need to work around my learning disability. The fall after my first Summer Study I went up to all of my teachers on the first day of school and stated that I have a learning disability. I told them of the accommodations that I would like and asked whether or not that would affect their classes.

At Summer Study, participants are shown what college life could be like first hand by staying in residence halls, going to labs and lectures on the campus, and eating in the dining halls with college students. This opportunity was great for me because it got me away from home and into a college environment.

DO-IT has shown me that I can accomplish things that I thought I could not do. The program taught me how to cope with my learning disability in an educational environment and made it seem easier to do work that I normally found difficult.

Summer Study '99: What Did the Phase I Scholars Do?

Picture of Phase I Scholars
DO-IT Phase I 1999 Scholars

DO-IT Phase I Scholars participate in a two-week, live-in summer study session on the University of Washington campus in Seattle, Washington. They learn about college life; surf the Internet; interact with peers, staff, and mentors; and have fun. Below, '99 Phase I Scholars share some of their experiences. Note that, reluctantly, some articles were edited by DO-IT staff to make them short enough to include in this publication. Additional articles by Scholars can be found in earlier newsletters at

Accessibility and UW Campus

by '99 DO-IT Scholars, Ali and Nate

The University of Washington is very accessible. They have wheelchair exits everywhere, elevators, and lots of computer programs that are used by people with different disabilities. We think it is very important to look for other people's needs because everybody is not the same. There are lots of different people who need different things and we have to help each other. When I (Ali) came to the United States, I felt like a normal person because I can go wherever I want and I can do whatever I want, like go to school and do many other things that I couldn't have done in my country because of my disability. In my country, I couldn't go to school because it wasn't accessible for wheelchairs. 

Picture of Zachary and Brandon on a bicycle
Zachary and volunteer, Brandon Benson, enjoy Skiforall

Dorm Life

by '99 DO-IT Scholars, Wolfgang and David

The room in McCarty Hall is somewhat small, dark, hot without the window completely open, has a fan that doesn't do what it's supposed to, and has blankets positioned where one had to pull them out in order to sleep on the bed. These are all somewhat small annoyances that could be worked out with some work. Now that we've experienced living under these conditions, we'll treasure the sleeping time we have at home more.

There are things that could be done to make living in a dorm room more pleasant. Next time you have to be in a dorm, bring a good radio that can be plugged in. Sleep with a night-light if absolute dark poses a problem for you. Bring a working fan, not the one that the university provides for you. Try to go to sleep early enough so that you can wake up on your own and do not have to be woken up by a noisemaker.

There are some good things about McCarty Hall. There are two beds to a room, so you will usually have a roommate to sleep with who should be interesting and fun to be with, even if they don't share the same interests as you. There are great things to play like pool and ping-pong. One can play more sports outside. The small lounge next to our rooms has a good television available for watching, and has a great balcony for just standing outside or sitting in a chair, looking relaxed and cool, especially at night.

Roommate Life

by '99 DO-IT Scholars, Zachary and Patrick

Roommate differences occur with everyone. Some of the experiences that you may encounter as roommates could range from none to getting along to becoming the best of friends. It's a life-long learning lesson on how to get along with people in close situations.

There's a good and bad side to having a roommate. The good side of having a roommate is having someone to talk to and do stuff with, and getting to know each other on a personal level. The bad side of having a roommate is that one may snore and the other one can't sleep the night, because the person may be a loud snorer.

In the end, roommates can be good to have. You may have your differences with your roommate so hold up your end of the bargain. Good luck with your future roommate.

Accessibility of Dorms

by '99 DO-IT Scholars, Kathy and Mi Mi

For people who use wheelchairs, dorm living can become difficult and frustrating. The rooms themselves can be far from perfect. To start, the spaces between the beds and the wall or closets may be too limited. The mirror may be too high for those in wheelchairs trying to see their hair or something. The closets need to be wide. The rod in the closet may be too high for those who are trying to hang stuff up such as towels or coats. Whenever there is more than one wheelchair in the hallways, one of them has to move so the other can get through if the halls are narrow.

In the restrooms they should have more than one stall for a wheelchair. Sometimes there are people in wheelchairs who need to use the restrooms immediately and they have to wait for the bigger one. For people with really wide wheelchairs, the entrances to the dorm rooms and the restrooms are sometimes too narrow. Showers should have railings for people to hold on to, especially the people in wheelchairs. If you plan to live in a dorm, check it out ahead of time and make sure to request the accommodations you need.

The Treasure Hunt

by '99 DO-IT Scholars, Kelci and Lacey

The Treasure Hunt took place on August 4th. We met in the McCarty Hall Lobby and broke into four groups. We were given our first clue and then were off and running. This activity took place for many good reasons. The clues lead us to buildings that we were going to visit in some of our next classes. This made us familiar with the campus and where we are supposed to go. This activity also gave us a break from the classes and a chance to get some exercise.

We liked this activity because it challenged us. We had to use our minds and be creative to figure out the clues. The first clue leads you to the next one and so on. The group that found the clues first and took them back to McCarty won, although everyone got one of Sheryl's "valuable" prizes.

Lacey using a computer at the Microsoft Museum
Lacey does it at the Microsoft Museum


Microsoft at Summer Study


by '99 DO-IT Scholars, Ryan, Roy and Brandon

The Microsoft museum was a great place to learn the history of the company. It started out with a collection of some of the first personal computers, starting with the Altair computer that had no keyboard or monitor, but used punch cards. On the opposite wall it showed how the company had grown in numbers from the original three. Their financial growth was also included on this wall.

The lunch that we had at Microsoft was really good. It came in a really cool box with all kinds of good stuff in it for food. In the box was a sandwich and fruit, your basic lunch in a box. It was just cool looking and the sandwich wasn't damp. It was all laid out, but what would you expect from this company?

The gift shop was truly amazing. It had almost every product that Microsoft has ever created (except for the older things). They had all kinds of Bill Gates clothes; they even had the Microsoft hat with the ribbed bill. What was also nice was the fact that all of the items in the gift shop were high quality, low-priced items. It was nice to be able to go into the gift store, and actually be able to buy a particular thing, without going "my God, look at the price!"

The Mariners Game

by '99 DO-IT Scholars, Oscar and J.W.

We really liked going to the Mariners game. Even though they lost it was still fun seeing them play the New York Yankees. At least we saw three home runs get hit out of the new Safeco field. The new stadium is a lot bigger than the old one and we think it looks a lot better. Oscar's favorite Mariners player is Alex Rodriguez. J.W.'s favorite player is Ken Griffey, Jr., who had the bases loaded but didn't hit a grand slam. Maybe next time.

Tynesha and Danielle at heart surgery workshop lab
Tynesha and Danielle at heart surgery workshop


Success - We Can DO-IT!


by '99 DO-IT Scholar, Crystal

There are many kinds of disabilities. There are visual and hearing impairments, mobility impairments, learning disabilities, and health problems. Many young people with these disabilities are highly motivated to succeed in life, to go on to college, to find the career of their choice, and to just do it. Although these young people have disabilities, they all lean toward one thing, success. They want to show other people what they are capable of doing and that they too can do it.

What do they do? They go into higher education after they graduate from high school and they study what they are interested in. They don't let anyone tell them that they cannot do it because they know that they can do it. And that is why it is so important to have goals. Goals then turn into bigger ones and that is what people with disabilities strive for. And that's what we want to do, to be able to dream big and aim for the brightest star in the sky, and to achieve everything we set out to do. And we know that we can do it!

Summer Study '99: Hear about Phase II Activities from DO-IT Interns

Picture of Phase II WA Scholars
DO-IT Phase II Washington Scholars

Phase II Scholars return to the University of Washington campus for a second Summer Study. They meet the Phase I Scholars, learn about college life and career preparation, and participate in a one-week workshop with postsecondary instructors. After Phase I and Phase II Summer Studies, some Scholars apply to work as Interns in Summer Study programs for new Scholars. Interns help with dorm and academic activities, mentor the younger Scholars, assist in computer labs, set art and clear up treats - whatever needs to be done to support the program. DO-IT Interns Amanda, Laura, and Michael tell about some of the Phase II and Intern activities in the report below.

It's 6:30 pm, July 24. After Sheryl's rousing introduction, we're all hungry and it's time for the DO-IT barbecue. It is, as usual, entertaining and a carnivorous delight. Let's hear from a few participating DO-IT Scholars. Wesley says, "The BBQ was very exciting because it allowed me to rekindle friendships that I established last year." Dustin opines, "The BBQ was fun and the food was good, but there wasn't enough of it." Isaiah tells me, "the BBQ was a good way to start things, especially because we all knew each other and had stuff to catch up on."

Phase II Workshops
It's 9:30 am on July 26. Now the fun really begins, or, at least, the work for the Interns does. I'm (Michael) helping with the workshop Game of Life, which is an interesting computer science simulation, with some amazing links to image processing. Though we're slow to pick up on the Java programming, creative new simulations start emerging. And we have a whole week. Let's hear from some Scholars. Jessie opens, "The Game of Life is an exciting and intellectually challenging workshop involving computer programming, and image processing." JP adds, "The Game Of Life is a very challenging game for the competitor's mind. It makes them think in ways that they haven't ever imaged in games before, because of the unique way that the game was created. Challenging the competitor in fields of different knowledge, thinking of how the picture might turn out or how they might die or live to another generation." Blair finishes, "It's an intriguing thing and I found it very fun to do."

Everyone Loves a Parade
7:00 pm. It's time for laughs on the Ave., as we watch the junior parade for Seafair. Some see it through cynical eyes, and others just laugh. Let's now open the floor for some Seafair thoughts. Jessie tells me, "Seafair was a great parade full of everything from ethnic dances to marching bands." Maggie adds, "The Seafair was one of the best parades I have seen in a while."

The Coats
Dateline: July 27. 19:00 hours. Mentor/Ambassador night is in full swing. With stomachs full of pizza, we listen briefly to yet another introduction. But, what's that I hear? The sound of a capella grooves? Yes, despite the unfortunate need for a name change (they were originally called The Trenchcoats), the Coats are back and sounding sweet. Let's hear from the audience. Turning the floor to Wesley, we hear, "The Coats put on a marvelous show." Jessie rejoins, "The Coats were an exciting addition to the Mentor/Ambassador night. Everyone really enjoyed them." Dustin rounds us out with "The Coats could be the highlight of the Phase II session, since Sheryl isn't taking us to a baseball game." 

Picture of 1999 Phase II Nat Scholars
1999 DO-IT Phase II National Scholars

Focus Group
On to The Focus Group. Okay...I'm focusing. Seriously, though, let's see what our Scholars say about how DO-IT went. According to Isaiah, "The focus discussion group was interesting and valuable." Justin thought, "My opinion was really helpful to the program, and that's why I liked it." Hank thought "it was cool and it was helpful and interesting." David thought "the focus group was a very good way to get our opinions across."

Tech Tips
Finally, Computer Tips and Troubleshooting (or occasionally just trouble) from Dan Comden. This program proved interesting and audience participation was key. Justin says, "The session on troubleshooting helped because I'm often stuck." Hank thought that "the tips were interesting and I hadn't heard them before. The Web sites were also neat." David modestly responded that, "It was a nice program, but I already knew a lot of the tips." And the rest will be left to history's remembrance.

"The number one fear in America is public speaking" according to Jerry Seinfeld. To help Scholars get over that fear a workshop was given by local speaker and comedian Ann Kaiser. Blair said, "It helped to get me over my nervousness." The Phase II Scholars were divided up into groups and given the task of being a spokesperson for NASA and to tell the press whether life on Mars had been found. After that, each person was given a "table talk" topic to discuss in front of everyone present. Jeffrey said, "No one will know what you are saying better than you." After each person gave a speech Ann Kaiser gave her comedy routine. Justin said, "I liked the stand-up routine."

The Talent Show
One of the most entertaining events at DO-IT Summer Study is the Talent Show. It's not scheduled every year, but it always seems to just, well, HAPPEN. Every group of Scholars has its hams, its share of people with unusual or interesting abilities. We at DO-IT love that kind of stuff. After some of the scheduled acts in the Talent Show, which included dancing, a "human calculator" whose nickname is 'Trouble' and some great singing and recitation, we called on "volunteers." These, of course, were the unfortunate souls nominated to go on stage by their peers. That lasted for quite a while, and we heard several hilarious stories, saw some excellent acting (courtesy of DO-IT staff Kristin and Kathy) and witnessed other irreverent antics. For a fairly impromptu presentation, the Talent Show turned out to be a wonderful and light-hearted evening event.

IEP's and Transition: Hear From Students Teleconference
The National Transition Alliance for Youth with Disabilities (NTA) National Conference presentation, IEP's and Transition: Hear it from the Students, July 27. A phone call with almost 200 people? Most people would be extremely nervous, but five DO-IT Interns participated in a teleconference describing their IEP (Individualized Educational Program) process and their experiences while transitioning to college. Michael said, "I thought the fact that it was led by students was really amazing." Each Intern was granted five minutes to describe their experiences with the transition process to college along with anything else relevant to the topic. Trent said, "I think they were not expecting us to be as knowledgeable as we were." After the students were done speaking teleconference participants could ask questions over the phone. Laura said, "I was really impressed and excited with how well the teleconference went."

Murphy's Law on Campus

'98 DO-IT Scholars, Blair and Hank

Do you ever feel that nature is after you? Do you think that the universe is striving to make your life miserable? Are you continually thinking that it can't get any worse, and then it gets worse? If you have, then you know Murphy's Law by heart.

Murphy's Law says that if anything can go wrong, it will. Those who participate in activities that are full of things that can go wrong, feel the full effect of Murphy's Law. This group of people includes campers, engineers, and college students. On a college campus, there are many things that can go wrong. Some can affect your entire future. Some scenarios that can be attributed to Murphy's Law are:

  • Your fan breaks on the hottest day of the year and you can't get another one until the next day.
  • The power goes out the night of an early morning final and you wake up two hours late.
  • You drop your notes and half of them blow out in front of a street sweeper.
  • You get food poisoning from the only thing that looks half-edible in the cafeteria.
  • The computer crashes and you didn't get a hard copy of your 15-page report that's due that day.
  • A blackout occurs at the beginning of your computer lab hour and power is restored just as it is time to leave.

Sometimes there is really nothing you can do about it. However, there are things you can do to prevent some bad things from happening.

Plan for the worst. This eliminates the horrible surprise of having terrible things happen. When something good happens, it will be a pleasant surprise.

Plan ahead. Eliminating the chance for anything bad to happen can prevent some bad things from happening.

Be flexible. If the day doesn't go as you planned, be willing to change your plans. Also, DON'T EVER EAT THE GREEN GLOP!

Courage at Camp Courage

Picture of Camp Courage kids
Camp Courage campers and staff

Kris, DO-IT Ambassador and staff member, and Rick Light, high school teacher from Wisconsin, took a big, bold, brave move into the world of new technology by establishing a satellite link to our Camp Courage Internet and College Preview program at Camp Courage, MN.

Although I worked mainly on the program planning and instructional side (someone, after all, has to figure out what we are going to actually DO with this stuff), I was dazzled by the new, fast connection. Congratulations, Kris and Rick. We have moved a long way from a cramped computer lab within a cabin lounge, to a large, separate computer lab with a satellite dish attached to a tree just outside the door! Besides the three of us, DO-IT Pal and college student Tracy Schraam, college student Chris Peterson and DO-IT Mentor Bill Taylor helped with the program. One of our activities at Camp Courage was a panel of college students who shared their success stories in transitioning to college. Here is a summary of the advice they gave to the younger Courage Campers who are planning to go to college.

  • Plan early.
  • Apply to several places.
  • Think through what you want to do and what you need.
  • Tour schools of interest and then take a thorough campus tour of the school you end up enrolling in.
  • Talk to your high school advisors.
  • Ask lots of questions.
  • Try to meet students with similar disabilities as yours.
  • Talk to staff at the Disabled Students Services Office BEFORE you apply and then after you are accepted and plan to attend.
  • Talk with your professors before classes start.
  • Do volunteer work in your areas of interest.
  • Get involved in campus activities.
  • Set a course for yourself but be open to changing your direction.
  • Consider different living options - dorm, apartment, home.
  • Organize a study group (about 4-6 people).
  • Try not to get discouraged by academic setbacks. Keep a good attitude.
  • Have fun, too!
Kris and students at Camp Courage
Kris and students at Camp Courage

A good time was had by all. Here is a report from one of our campers:

Hi! I'm Lindsay. I would like to tell you about Camp Courage, a camp that I've been coming to for many years. Camp Courage is a camp for people with all types of disabilities from age 7 to adulthood. This year's "Teen Camp" was held July 10-19, in Maple Lake, MN.

I attended the Computer/College Preview Camp, co-sponsored by DO-IT and Camp Courage as part of Teen Camp. In this program we focus on preparing for college and learning more about computers and the adaptive technology that is out there for people with disabilities. This includes touring a college and learning more about e-mail and the Internet.

What I like best about this particular session is that it gets you excited about college and learning about technology, but at the same time, you can do things like tubing, horseback riding, swimming, Courage Stock and the other evening programs. I learned about what life is like in college for people with disabilities. Some of my fellow campers said:

"It was fun learning about the variety of ways I can learn on the computer."

"Computer camp is wonderful to have here."

"I liked downloading Titanic music on the Internet."

"I took myself to the next level by learning basic computer programming."

"I liked it!"

One of the staff members ended the session by saying, "I'm exhausted! I want to go to sleep."

DO-IT is Institutionalized?

Sheryl Burgstahler

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has provided DO-IT with a special three-year grant to institutionalize and replicate successful practices by securing alternative funding and incorporating practices into other programs. The goal is to maximize the impact of NSF funds to increase the success of people with disabilities in academic programs and careers in science, engineering, mathematics, and technology (SMET).

DO-IT helps:

  • children and youth with disabilities learn strategies to participate in SMET and develop skills using computers, the Internet and adaptive technology
  • students with disabilities transition to college and careers
  • teachers and faculty become more receptive and capable of including students with disabilities in their courses
  • campus programs become more accessible to individuals with disabilities
  • library staff and administrators understand how to make their electronic resources accessible to patrons with disabilities
  • camp directors learn how to incorporate Internet activities into their curriculum and accommodate campers with disabilities
  • adult students and professionals with disabilities mentor students with disabilities
  • parents, service providers, and the public become more aware of the potential contributions and special needs of students with disabilities in SMET fields
  • identify factors leading to college completion and employment in SMET

Specific DO-IT activities have included:

  • summer study programs which allow high school students with disabilities to explore SMET fields and develop college and career transition skills and strategies
  • a mentoring program that matches high school students with disabilities with successful role models in SMET academic programs and careers
  • Internet communication and information retrieval for students with disabilities
  • an electronic community for those interested in SMET and disability-related issues
  • disability awareness presentations to faculty and staff
  • college transition, library access, Web page design, and adaptive technology workshops
  • dissemination of program and disability-related information through electronic resources, printed materials, and videotapes

The Institutionalization of DO-IT project follows logically from DO-IT's previous activities. It continues efforts to empower individuals with disabilities, make programs and careers more accessible, and explore strategies and implement activities to institutionalize successful practices nationwide. Project strategies include seeking state, federal, corporate, and private funding and sponsorship; selling project products; and incorporating practices into existing services. If you have suggestions for institutionalizing DO-IT practices into existing programs across the country or for funding sources, please contact DO-IT.


Deb Cronheim, DO-IT Research Coordinator
Picture of Julie and Sheryl
Julie and Sheryl make plans for DO-IT CAREERS/K-12

DO-IT recently received a grant (#H324M990010) from the U.S. Department of Education to extend its career preparation activities for college students to younger students with disabilities. In the new DO-IT CAREERS/K-12 project, middle and high school students with disabilities will get a jump start on their careers by participating in work-based learning experiences that include volunteering, internships, and paid employment. "It's never too early to start developing skills," says DO-IT CAREERS/K-12 project coordinator, Julie Smallman, "especially for students with disabilities who are not always encouraged to participate in high-level, high-skill, work-based learning opportunities at their schools or in community-based programs!"

The four-year project is based on the DO-IT CAREERS model, a career-development project for college students with disabilities, and, like its predecessor, CAREERS/K-12 will provide training for teachers, employers, career counselors, parents, and service providers to help them include students with disabilities in their programs and raise their expectations about these students' abilities. CAREERS/K-12 will incorporate mentoring, peer support, computer and Internet activities. Participants are encouraged to follow the DO-IT CAREERS guidelines: Careers, Academics, Research, Experiential Education, and Relevant Skills. Smallman coordinates the CAREERS/K-12 program. Lyla Crawford supports DO-IT CAREERS/K-12 efforts in DO-IT's Spokane office.

DO-IT "One Kid at a Time" Begins in Oregon

Deb Cronheim, DO-IT Research Coordinator

This past summer, thanks to the Samuel S. Johnson Foundation, Buffy, a high school senior from Oregon, joined twenty of her peers for the intensive DO-IT Scholars college preparation program at the University of Washington. Following Summer Study, she continues participation on-line from home. She will return in 2000 for a second Summer Study as a Phase II Scholar. In 2001 she will have graduated from high school and will participate as a DO-IT Ambassador, mentoring incoming Scholars and promoting DO-IT efforts in her home state, and working as an Intern in Summer Study 2001.

DO-IT continues to seek partners to support the DO-IT Scholars program and other outreach activities on a national level. With full state funding secured for Washington residents only, director Sheryl Burgstahler has set her sights on the remaining 49 states. Burgstahler started a campaign she nicknamed "One Kid at a Time," a proposal to support at least one high school student with a disability from each state to attend the three-year Scholar's program. The Samuel S. Johnson Foundation is the first to step forward. The Foundation was initially approached by a parent of a DO-IT Scholar, who could attest to the worthiness of the program. Burgstahler is optimistic about additional partnerships. "For a relatively small investment, other individual, corporate or foundation donors can assure that their state is not left out of the DO-IT experience."

If you have ideas for funding DO-IT in your state, contact the DO-IT office.

Microsoft Funds DO-IT!

Sheryl Burgstahler

DO-IT is happy to announce that we received a grant from Microsoft to extend our DO-IT Campers program to at least two more out-of-state Easter Seals Camps during the summers of 2000 and 2001! Seeking this funding is part of our "Institutionalization of DO-IT Practices" project funded by the National Science Foundation (see related article). In our Institutionalization project we, among other things, seek new funding sources for successful programs and activities that were developed as part of our earlier NSF grants. So, thanks NSF and thanks Microsoft!

DO-IT Prof

Deb Cronheim, research coordinator

September 13 marked the beginning of DO-IT Prof, a model demonstration project funded by the U.S. Department of Education (grant #P33A990042) to help college faculty and administrators address the needs of students with disabilities.

Many college faculty and instructors are not adequately prepared to address the challenges that result when students with disabilities enroll in their classes. They are often not aware of specific accommodations and campus resources and may have lower expectations for students with disabilities than their non-disabled peers. Although various campuses around the country, like the University of Washington, have developed fragmented programs to increase faculty awareness, no one has created a comprehensive program using the multi-modal delivery mechanisms that will be used in this project. DO-IT Prof will provide professional training that responds to the diverse needs of faculty including their learning styles, previous experience, and schedules.

DO-IT Prof staff will work with a project team that includes disabled student services administrators and faculty from more than 20 institutions of higher education from across the United States. Project team members will each choose an institutional partner in their state that has demographics (e.g., racial mix, size, location) that are different than their own. Team members will help develop program materials, coordinate the delivery of professional development presentations to faculty on their own campuses and partner schools, and collect evaluation data to ensure high quality of project materials and activities. Members of AHEAD (Association for Higher Education and Disability) and WAPED (Washington Association on Postsecondary Education and Disability) are part of the project team. Students with disabilities will also be included in project efforts.

DO-IT Prof will create and deliver at least six models of professional development.

Model 1: A 20-30 minute presentation to be delivered to faculty and administrators at regular departmental meetings to introduce participants to basic legal issues, accommodation strategies, and resources specific to their campuses.

Model 2: A 1-2 hour departmental meeting presentation with special focus on providing accommodations to students with a variety of disabilities.

Model 3: A half-day or full-day workshop for more in-depth training typically offered on a campus-wide basis.

Model 4: A televised instruction option using a series of videotapes to deliver a one-hour program on public television.

Model 5: A distance learning "anytime-anywhere" course that provides lessons and discussion delivered via electronic mail.

Model 6: Self-paced, Web-based instruction with expanded content of other models including downloadable videos.

Completion of this project will result in faculty and administrators being better prepared to fully include students with disabilities on their campuses and contribute to system change within post-secondary institutions across the nation. Ultimately, this project will result in greater post-secondary educational opportunities for individuals with disabilities.

DO-IT Profiles

Here's your chance to learn more about the participants in DO-IT.

DO-IT Scholar Profile

by Buffy

My name is Buffy and I live in Oregon City, Oregon. Oregon City is 15 minutes away from Portland. I am a senior in high school and I am having a great time. I play basketball, played on varsity since freshman year until now. My team won two state championships and one national title. I am 17 years old living with my brother who is 19 and in college now. I have parents and have 2 dogs, so cute!!! My hobbies are reading, computers, lifting weights, and exercising. My goal may be big but it is to get an 'A' in every class this year and win the state basketball championship one more time.

DO-IT Ambassador Profile

by Katie

Wow! Seems like only yesterday that I was with the first group of DO-IT kids! It was awesome to meet some of the new DO-IT kids when I last visited Summer Study. I try to keep up-to-date with things through e-mail.

Well, I graduated in May 1999! Yes!!! I graduated on May 8 at 8 am, with a B.S. in Biology from Washington State University! I was accepted at Eastern Washington University for Physical Therapy and so that is where I plan to go for the next three years to get my Masters in PT. It is a really intense program and I believe I am one of the first or the first deaf person to do this at EWU. It has been a wonderful experience so far and I'm truly enjoying my graduate experiences. At WSU, a group of us started a Sign Language group which began my freshman year and the second semester I became treasurer. My sophomore year I had the opportunity to be president and vice president. They have meetings regularly and during Mom's Weekend they put on a performance in sign language. An interpreter was there to voice. It is wonderful to see this club grow and I hope it continues to develop and educate others about the deaf culture.

Also...I got married!!! Yes, Katie finally found Mr. Right! His name is Ryan Aiello and we were married on September 4, 1999! Crazy, huh guys! A lot of new stuff and life changes for me happened all in 1999! Right before the year 2000!

To any of the new DO-IT kids who would like to know anything about WSU or college or biology in general, feel free to ask! My disability is deafness. Send e-mail to me at

DO-IT Pal Profile

by Shannon

I'm Shannon and am a high school senior. I live in Oregon. My disability is hearing and visual impairment, and I have glaucoma. I like general sciences (mostly general biology) and I definitely like the computers and technology that go along with it. During my spare time I like to ride horses, make up HTML documents for my school and myself, travel (if I have a large sum of spare time). I also like surfing the 'Net for things that relate to the medical conditions that I have.

DO-IT 2-4 Profile

by Greg Buell

Hi, my name is Greg Buell. I am originally from Kennewick, Washington, also known as the Tri-Cities. It was here that I started my college education at Columbia Basin College. After receiving my AA degree I transferred to Seattle Pacific University, where I majored in communications with a minor in business administration. I just finished an internship with the Seattle Supersonics and after graduating in June, I've been looking toward a long and successful career in public relations around the Puget Sound area. I was born without arms and with slight problems in my left leg (nothing a few major surgeries didn't take care of). I use my feet to do most of my daily activities, including driving, shaving, and eating. My limitations are very few and I enjoy an active life just like most other college students.

My transition from Columbia Basin College (CBC) to Seattle Pacific University was rather smooth thanks to the help provided by the Disabled Student Services (DSS) office at SPU. SPU and its staff were very willing to work with me and to make the necessary adaptations. In considering another private university, I found that they were not very willing to help in many ways. I think prospective students need to contact the DSS office and meet with them to discuss what assistance may be needed. I recommend doing this early in your search for a school. I found the whole SPU community caring and considerate. I think the choice of a smaller school was important to me, considering the assistance that I needed. I found the academics challenging (upper-level classes) and interesting. The professors all had in-depth knowledge of their respective subjects and were interested in their students' success.

Another main factor in a smooth transition for me is getting involved. Last year I just settled in and did not take an active role in extra-curricular activities. This year I have been much more active around campus and I feel like things are 100% better. I enjoy singing, so joining the chapel worship team at SPU was a logical choice for me. I encourage others to find something they enjoy doing and find out how they can become involved in leadership in that area.

DO-IT Mentor Profile

by Bill Taylor

Hi, I am Bill Taylor and perhaps we once met at the SeaTac Airport. It's one of my favorite pick-up spots. Perhaps we have raced to catch a plane, or searched for lost luggage, or called home to let mom know that things were once again in order. SeaTac has been the beginning of a number of friendly e-relationships in recent years.

I volunteered to help DO-IT at dinner one evening with Dave and Sheryl Burgstahler, and my offer was QUICKLY accepted. DO-IT has the ability to find a spot for everyone. Have you tried to escape from the talent show and suddenly found yourself the Master of Ceremonies? Have you tried to ignore the opportunity to discuss your experiences only to find yourself on a panel of experts discussing the subject? Yep, few resources are ignored in DO-IT.

Recently I retired from Boeing only to find that available time could be donated, free of charge, to DO-IT. Normally, that would be a ridiculous arrangement, but there have been some profound experiences in the last few years which make that arrangement too good to pass up. One Scholar commented that she did not think she could attend college because of her disability, but after spending time at the U-Dub she didn't think there would be any problems. Another Scholar said that she had met other intelligent kids with disabilities for the first time in her life at DO-IT. Another Scholar said that his goal was to walk across the stage to receive his high school diploma. Another Scholar said ... the list goes on and on. The comments are important and the emotional impact is unforgettable.

I believe DO-IT Scholars will influence the next millennium and DO-IT provides me the opportunity to communicate with future leaders of our society. There is no Y2K problem here. Perhaps I can influence the future through DO-IT. I know the DO-IT Scholars will.

In real life, skiing and flying small airplanes have been important. I own a pair of skis and a Cessna, but heart disease now prevents me from flying the plane. A medical certificate is not required to ski, as anyone familiar with Skiforall can attest. Travis Burgstahler (Sheryl and Dave's son) and I are in the same ski school.

DO-IT Staff Profile

by Kristin Otis

I will introduce myself as Kristin Otis, but many of you know me as I moved to Seattle in June 1996 to work in my present position as a counselor/coordinator for DO-IT. I help coordinate DO-IT Summer Study, mentoring and outreach efforts. I found DO-IT while I was happily employed in El Centro, California as a speech and language specialist. The position announcement seemed to fit my interests and background too well to pass up. It was an exciting move! A new job, a new city and forty new people to meet within my first three working months. Yes, that's right. I have the privilege of meeting DO-IT Scholars via the Internet throughout the year and face-to-face in the summer. Shortly after my move into my new apartment I took a two week jaunt to the University of Washington campus to fill the role of dorm counselor during the DO-IT Summer Study Program.

DO-IT is the type of program that I should have been involved with, had it been available during my high school years. During my freshman year of college, it was discovered that I had dyslexia. Through an excellent University of Minnesota mentoring program and experimenting with new learning strategies, I learned how to work with my learning style. I can't believe what a different person I am now that I know and understand my disability. It's not fun to struggle with things that your classmates breeze through. I often hid my struggles and questions because I was embarrassed and thus I had a pretty low self image. I became quite an actress. I was lucky to have an incredibly supportive family who always had high expectations. I know I would have never pursued college if I had not been pushed in that direction. College basically gave me the opportunity to have a life that I feel good about.

My learning disability has become an asset in my life. It has forced me to know myself and take responsibility for my future. It's just a part of life and we're all different. When I graduated from high school, I was terrified of failure. Then I found out I had a learning disability and I realized that I had the ability to learn and succeed. That was an incredible turning point in my life and I wish others could share that experience.

I have many hobbies that include traveling, outdoor adventures, art, drama and paying special attention to my many nieces and nephews. The last three years have been good and I feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet many of you.

In Memory of Neil Uhlman

Picture of Neil Uhlman
In Memory of Neil Uhlman

One of the most loyal friends of DO-IT died suddenly on June 24, 1999. Neil's career included positions at Boeing, Green River Community College, the Higher Education Coordinating Board, and the College of Engineering at the University of Washington. Although Neil officially retired from the College of Engineering in 1996, he continued to work as a volunteer on DO-IT efforts. He made effective use of his previous work experiences and contacts to help DO-IT secure ongoing state funding for its programs in Washington State. He served on our DO-IT Futures Advisory Board, helping us plan new initiatives. DO-IT and those of us who knew him personally have lost a good friend.



DO-IT Video Director Wins Award!

Sheryl Burgstahler

Charlie Hinckley was selected to receive a 1999 Award of Excellence in the Best of the Northwest Video Festival, Informational category for her production of the DO-IT video titled The Winning Equation - Access + Attitude = Success. This program has already won a Gold ITVA Emerald City Award and is part of a long and successful collaboration between Charlie Hinckley and DO-IT. This specific videotape, designed to help science and mathematics teachers fully include students with disabilities in their courses, was created as part of the DO-IT MATH-SCI project which was funded by an Eisenhower grant (#91915). This award-winning videotape is available from DO-IT for $25.

The Best of the Northwest Video Festival honors outstanding community television programs from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Noncommercial programs, produced for presentation on public, educational, government access and local origination cable channels are judged by panels of access producers, media professionals and community members of the Western Region.

Congratulations, Charlie and DO-IT!

DO-IT's Clean Bill of Health Award

Dan Comden, DO-IT Technology Specialist

The DO-IT Web site for Disability-Related Resources on the Internet has been awarded the Hardin MD Clean Bill of Health, given to the "best of the best" sites, that have connection rates of at least 93%. The Hardin site is a list of large, medium and small sites that contain valuable Internet resources for the medical world. DO-IT's Disability-Related Resources on the Internet is listed as a large site.

The Hardin Library for the Health Sciences at the University of Iowa uses link-checking software and random manual spot checking to determine the connection rate of links on the lists included in the Hardin Meta Directory. More information on the Hardin award can be found at

DO-IT is Enriched as Scholar Wins Award

Deb Cronheim, DO-IT research coordinator

Every so often, DO-IT receives a donation that has a special significance. The Olathe East Chapter of the National Honor Society made one such donation in response to what they saw as a tremendous benefit to one of their members, Jeff Kopac, who is a '98 DO-IT Scholar. Olathe East High School donated $400 to DO-IT in recognition of the opportunities DO-IT provides to promising young students with disabilities. Way to go, Jeff, and thank you Olathe East!!

Here is Jeff's inspirational high school graduation speech:

Good evening Dr. Kaawitz, fellow students, parents, teachers and friends. Most people know me as the kid in this red wheelchair zooming down the halls and getting to class, but they don't know how strong and determined I am. In 1985, I was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Ataxia Telangiectasia. The doctors told us I would not live to be 12 years old. From being able to play T-ball and soccer I progressively lost my mobility and had to sit on the sideline and watch my friends play. Most people facing what I have would choose to take the easy way out and give up. At the age of six, I began learning the martial arts. From this I learned how to cultivate the will for striving for the best. Plainly speaking, "never give up, persevere." I handled my health problem by putting emphasis on academics and striving to prove to people that I could succeed. I didn't listen to people's preconceived ideas on what I could or could not accomplish. I was set on what I wanted to do. I thought independently.

Facing a major challenge is like climbing a mountain. It cannot be conquered in one great leap. Instead, it must be taken one small step at a time. Each step is a small success and through perseverance, the mountain can be conquered. If we don't ever give up, we can succeed. So in the immortal words of the late Jim Valvano, "Don't give up! Don't ever give up!"

The Thread: To Socialize or Not to Socialize

A while back DO-IT Scholars, Pals, and Mentors addressed the following questions in an active discussion on the Internet.

  1. What does it mean to you to have a "successful social life"?
  2. Why is it (or is it not) important to develop a successful social life in college?
  3. What are strategies for developing a fulfilling social life in college?

Below are some of the responses.

  • As far as social life, I can't stress enough the importance of at least trying to get out and be involved. It really doesn't matter in what- clubs, teams, friends, whatever... It won't be easy...but it's worth it...
  • Social life in college is imperative for your own sanity and for learning how to interact with people. In many cases, people make lasting friendships in college.
  • ...those that come out of college without social interaction will have trouble. We live and work in a world where groups of people solve problems- especially in the areas of science, math, and engineering. Therefore, these people coming out of college will have trouble succeeding because they do not have the higher social skills required in this situation. Yes, you learn academically in college, however, the social skills learned are more important...
  • I found people to be a lot more open in college than in high school, and I learned about socializing with others in college, and am still learning in graduate school. In college, I made most of my friends in classes, in the dining hall, at the foreign language table, and at the Lutheran Ministry at my university. I am still in touch with several people I met during my college years.
  • I think I've learned from being with people, too. Mostly it's made being with people much easier for me. I'm not so self-conscious or uncertain of myself. Friends have also re-introduced me to things like crayons and taught me card games and so on. Not only is it fun to hang out with people, but it's emotionally uplifting. Life wouldn't be as worthwhile without friends.
  • I think college consists of both social and academic learning. As I look back on my undergraduate days, I remember a lot more social times with other people than I do lectures or exams. And I'm not really a people person, either. I know I learned a lot from the social end of things. Some of that learning was painful, because when you make friends, people sometimes give feedback which you need but wouldn't otherwise get about behavior and attitude. This is part of people relating to one another, and causes necessary growth. Mostly though, socializing is fun, and being by yourself is lonely.
  • College teaches you many things if it works right. How to interact with many people in many different ways and on many different levels, but it also gives you information and hopefully enhances problem-solving and thinking for yourself skills.
  • In college, one has the challenge of balancing academic demands with social pleasures. That is something that will be important later on, too.
  • I believe that this type of socialization turns out professional associations that last. Now that I am a computing professional, these relations continue. We have careers in common and I rely on others to give me important information. My friends also rely on me to feed them information.
  • In many cases for blind people socializing is the key to academics...we need sighteds that are part of the class, in the same section of the book, listening to the same lectures, doing the same homework, to help us with them. With their help we can get the descriptions we need. Therefore, socializing is, as I have said, imperative. Academics is the road we use to get there. After academics or dorm life, we can branch out into wider social circles. It is a progression.
  • Having a successful social life will make your college career easier for many reasons. First, with a social life, a person does not feel lonely because you have friends to talk to and listen to. Secondly, you can get help from your friends if you need help. For example, you can study those killer midterms with friends! Third, a person would have more chances to form a relationship which we believe is important to people. Fourth, it will make you a "well-rounded" person and most companies will look for that when you look for a job.
  • I have seen people who had a good social life in life and college. This is a key skill that you need to learn in college. In your professional career, you need to do this with your career and family.
  • In college and "real" life you need a lot of support to even survive on your own.
  • My social contacts came from communities of shared interest. Pretty much any religious or political interest, extracurricular activity or hobby can work if you use it. For me, the debate team and the foreign language house provided communities where I felt accepted and had a good time.
  • The interest...allows me to escape my label. I guess you get a chance to know a person spiritually first...
  • Living in the dorms helped immensely in immersing me in the college social life. Without the contact in the dining halls, my social life would only have been half as good at best.
  • My social life revolves mostly around people on my floor or in the NASA program. I'm in Intervarsity Christian fellowship, too, and know people in it, but I got involved in that through people on my floor last year.
  • A lot of my social life surrounded my career goals. I wanted to be a programmer and hung around the computer lab-not exactly beer and pizza, but it was very social. I think I learned more from the other students than from my professors. There was great interaction and sharing of ideas and concepts.
  • There are many strategies to fulfilling social life in college. A popular way is to join a fraternity or sorority on campus. Through this, you can get a lot of friends from your house. Second way is to join a club that matches your interest. I prefer this way because it matches your interests with other people. I have a lot of friends by joining a club. Third way, similar to joining a fraternity, is to live in a dorm. This is a good way for people who don't want to join a frat.
  • Socializing that is connected to your schoolwork is very valuable, too. I made one good friend in college in a class we were taking together. Every week, we got together and worked on the homework together. The best part was that we were able to help each other, so that it was not one-sided. During my first year as a graduate student, I also frequently discussed problem sets with my classmates. This gave me good experience for collaborating with others on research.
  • You just need to smile at people and look receptive. You should take some time to go to a common place in your dorm and talk to the people there.
  • I think that blind people face the particular challenge of not being able to walk up to someone with whom they would like to talk unless they hear their voice or the person introduces him or herself. In the dining hall, for example, I always asked someone to help me find a seat, but that person would not necessarily know the people I liked to sit with, so it was a game of chance. Sometimes I met people, sometimes I happened to sit next to good friends, and sometimes I was unable to join in the conversations around me. However, by making friends in certain interest groups and arranging to meet friends for a meal, I was able to keep in touch with the people I cared about.
  • I understand that for some people making friends is not that easy as it is for others. But if you would treat people in a friendly manner, they are going to treat you the same. Whereas, if you feel yourself so different from others and would not talk to them then you will find yourself totally out of place. Everyone is the same and different, too. This is what is so good about the world.

As The Web Turns: Golfing with Stevie

Stevie Wonder and Jack Nicklaus are in a bar. Stevie mentions that they ought to get together and play a few holes.

"You play golf!?" asks Jack.

Stevie says, "Yes, I have been playing for years."

"But I thought you were blind; how can you play golf if you are blind?" Jack asks.

"I get my caddie to stand in the middle of the fairway and he calls to me. I listen for the sound of his voice and play the ball towards him, then when I get to where the ball lands the caddie moves to the green or further down the fairway and again I play the ball towards his voice," explains Stevie.

"But how do you putt?" Nicklaus wondered.

"Well," says Stevie, "I get my caddie to lean down in front of the hole and call to me with his head on the ground and I just play the ball to the sound of his voice."

Nicklaus says, "What is your handicap?"

"Well, I play off scratch," Stevie assures Jack. Nicklaus is incredulous and says to Stevie, "We must play a game sometime."

Wonder replies, "Well, people don't take me seriously so I only play for money, and I never play for less than $100,000 a hole."

Nicklaus thinks it over and says, "Ok, I'm up for that. When would you like to play?"

"I don't care - any night next week is ok with me."

The 1999 NCCE Conference

Eric, DO-IT Ambassador

DO-IT hosted a booth at the conference run by the Northwest Council for Computing and Education at the convention center in downtown Seattle. I decided to help with the exhibit. This was going to be an adventure. I was going to have to stay in a downtown hotel and learn to get around in new territory.

I used my online resources to pick a hotel. When I visited the Seattle Network online, I found a couple of places that offered rooms for less than $100. I called each one to find out what they had to offer. After my investigation, I made a reservation at the Pacific Plaza. While it was further away from the convention center, the people there were very accommodating and agreed to help me get transportation to and from the hotel. When I went online to find out about transportation to and from the airport, I discovered that the downtown shuttle stopped at the Four Seasons Hotel and I would have to walk the rest of the way to the Pacific Plaza. As a result, I decided to go by train. The railroad station was a lot closer to downtown and the rates were a lot cheaper. I was able to get a round-trip ticket to Seattle for only $36.

Before leaving town, I made all the necessary arrangements. I kept online contact with Kristin so I would get assistance around the convention center. In addition, I made sure that she had the number of the hotel as well as my wireless phone number.

The day of the big adventure arrived. I left Gresham at 10:30 am to catch a train at 12:30. It was one of those high-speed trains, which are a lot faster. In addition, they originate in Portland so there is less of a chance of being late. When I boarded the train, I asked the conductor to call the station in Seattle to make sure I got the assistance I needed. When I reached Seattle, the porter took me out in front of the station so I could get a cab to the hotel. When I arrived at the hotel, I was directed to my room where I was able to drop off my supplies and get settled in. I went down to the restaurant for dinner and discovered that I could have the charges added on to the cost of my room. This meant that I did not have to spend a lot of cash.

On the first day of the conference, at 11:00 am, Julie came to meet me at the main entrance of the convention center and she directed me to the booth. When I got there, I didn't think I would have any visitors. However, visitors came from everywhere. People thought I would lose my voice by the end of the conference.

I had a wide variety of questions to answer. I had a couple visitors who worked for learning centers and wanted to learn about how to make PC systems accessible to people with visual impairments. I was able to talk them through the process. In addition, I gave them my online address so they could contact me if they had any further questions. Some of our visitors were from elementary and high schools. They had disabled students attending their schools and wanted to know what kinds of accommodations to provide. I was able to give them advice on different kinds of computer technology. Most of the people I talked to had general questions about DO-IT. I told them about the Scholars program and the Pals program. Most of the visitors collected written documentation.

The second day was quieter than the first. I arrived at the convention center at about 11:15. The first thing we did was called a poster session. This was where the staff set up posters and people could ask questions about what they saw. It was similar to the booth in that people asked questions about similar things. A lot of people asked me about DO-IT. A few of them asked for my e-mail address and there were some who asked me questions about special technology. When we got back to the booth, there were very few visitors. While I was at this conference, I got to tour some of the other booths. I learned some good information that might be useful for my work experience. At 3:15, I went back to my hotel and started making preparations for my trip to Southern Oregon the next day. On the following day, I woke up early and checked out of the hotel. I kept a copy of my receipt so I could scan it and add up the charges. I got transportation to the railroad station where I was able to catch a train back to Portland. When I arrived, I went to Greyhound and caught a bus to Medford. By the time I got there, I was very tired out, but I felt I had achieved a lot.

I learned some really important lessons from this experience.

  1. Be very careful when selecting a hotel. Don't just choose one that offers the services you want. It might not be within your budget. However, you should not always select the cheapest hotel because it might not have the services you need. When you find a hotel that is within your budget, call them and find out what services they offer.
  2. Charging meals to your room is a good way to pay for them. This allows you to cover all of your expenses in one purchase. You don't have to carry as much cash or manage as much paperwork.
  3. If you use a cab or shuttle service you like, ask your driver about arranging more transportation with that company. If the driver can not answer your question, he will at least give you the number of the dispatcher. If you can pre-arrange transportation ahead of time, this will increase your chances of getting to your destination on time. Some transportation services have online servers. This allows you to e-mail the company and ask questions before you leave town.
  4. If you have the opportunity, you should check out other booths at the conference you are attending. You might learn something new and it might turn out to be very useful.
  5. Out of all those lessons, here is the most important: communication is the key to a successful mission. As long as you can tell people what you need, your mission will be successful.

The Browser: Calendar of Events

Kristin Otis, DO-IT counselor/coordinator

TAM/CEC (Technology & Media Division of the Council for Exceptional Children)
January 20-22, 2000
Milwaukee, WI
Technology access conference. 715-824-6415;

IDEAS 2000: IDEAS for a NEW Millennium
January 27-28, 2000
Spokane, WA
Sponsored by the Regional Special Education Directors within Education Service District 101. 509-456-7086.

Technology, Reading & Learning Difficulties
January 27-29, 2000
San Francisco, CA
Sessions on classroom and administrative applications. Educational Computer Conferences Inc.

Careers Conference 2000: A Millennium of Opportunities
January 31 - February 2, 2000
Madison, WI
Career options. 800-446-0399;

AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) Annual Meeting and Science Innovation Exposition
February 17-22, 2000
Washington, DC
Science and science education. 202-326-6450;;

16th Annual Pacific Rim Conference-Creating Futures: Kaleidoscopes of Opportunity for People with Disabilities
March 6-7, 2000
Honolulu, HI
Sponsored by University of Hawaii at Manoa. 808-956-2673;;

CSUN's 15th Annual Technology Conference
March 20-25, 2000
Los Angeles, CA
Technology and persons with disabilities.

Tools 4 Success Conference
March 28, 2000
Tacoma, WA
Employment and technology for persons with disabilities. 253-596-1697;

AAHE (American Association For Higher Education) 2000 National Conference
March 29 - April 1, 2000
Anaheim, CA
Access to and diversity in higher education.

Special Education World Congress 2000
April 4-5, 2000
Vancouver, BC, Canada
Research, policy, and practice: building on global achievements; in conjunction with CEC's (Council for Exceptional Children) Annual Convention and Expo. 888-CEC-SPED (888-232-7733);

NSTA 2000 (National Science Teachers Association)
April 6-9, 2000
Orlando, FL
Science education. 703-243-7100;

University of Washington Health Sciences Open House
April 7-8, 2000
Seattle, WA
Health science topics. 206-543-3620;

NCCE (Northwest Council for Computer Education) 2000: Bridging Distances
April 19-22, 2000
Portland, OR
Technology in education. 503-246-0133;

International Parent to Parent Conference 2000
May 4-7, 2000
Reno, Nevada
"Pioneer Spirit - Blazing New Trails."
775-784-4921, ext.2352;

12th Annual Postsecondary Learning Disability Training Institute
June 13-17, 2000
Saratoga Springs, NY
Sponsored by University of Connecticut.

NECC (National Educational Computing Conference)
June 26-28, 2000
Atlanta, GA
Educational technology. 800-280-6218 or

AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disability)
July 12-15, 2000
Kansas City, MO
Universal designs in higher education. Metropolitan Community College, Kansas City.

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