The Thread: Phase II Scholar Projects

Sheryl Burgstahler

In this regular column I share some of the messages from DO-IT's e-mentoring community so that you can get the flavor of the many rich conversations we have online. This edition is about DO-IT Scholar ideas for Phase II projects, which are completed during the year after the Phase I Summer Study, and presented to Phase I and II participants. DO-IT Ambassadors, who are DO-IT Scholar graduates, share their projects when they were Phase II Scholars. I recently posed the following question to our Internet discussion forum.

With Summer Study 2007 just ending I know many of you are thinking about the year ahead—what are some of the ideas you Scholars have for your Phase II projects? While we are on the subject, how about if some DO-IT Ambassadors also share what you did for your Phase II projects.

DO-IT Scholar: [I am interested in doing my Phase II project on the differences between the blind and the visually impaired.] 161 million persons live with a disabling visual impairment, of whom 37 million are blind and 124 million are persons with low vision. Every 5 seconds someone becomes blind, every minute somewhere a child goes blind. About 90% of them live in developing countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific Regions. Nearly 6 million of them are preschool and school age children, 90-95% of whom have no access to education (from Braille Without Borders).

For anybody who can't help feeling pity for themselves or mistreated in their life, just take a second and imagine living as one of these children and the adults they will end up becoming.

DO-IT Scholar: Wow. The statistics are boggling. I learned something new today. So, to make it clear... are you saying that this is what you're currently planning on doing for your Phase II project—making a statistics database or document on global blindness and such? I'd go for it. If you can put these numbers together in a slideshow or something and deliver the presentation with enough power, you should get some pretty extreme reactions from your audience, including audiences other than DO-IT. You could show this presentation at your school in a class or something and see what they think of it. Practice your speech, too, so you can deliver it like Rolling Sea and Falling Star in tandem (whatever that means; it sounded cool). It's also vital that you cite your sources at the end of your presentation.

DO-IT Scholar: It looks like this is going to be my project. I wish I could make a documentary film or something concerning this subject. I definitely would if I had enough time. I would love to travel to some of these countries and see these precious, innocent children and make a film. I am going to have to stick with information from books and the web. Hopefully, I will get the message out there. If anybody has any tips for me I would love to hear them!

DO-IT Ambassador: If you are going to do this [for your Phase II project], I'd encourage you to also present the side of how technology and other tools can help the blind and people with visual impairments. What would be extremely cool is if you could find someone who is just learning the tools (Braille, JAWS, etc.) and then show the person as they start off and then again a couple months later. A fairly involved project, but not too time-consuming, and I'd definitely suggest looking into doing the first part (DO-IT could loan equipment/software for JAWS demo or another Scholar could help with that part). Just a few more ideas.

DO-IT Scholar: Hi, I just read what you are going to do for your project and I think that it sounds awesome!

DO-IT Ambassador: An idea that I used [for my Phase II project] when I was a Scholar was writing a web page about accessible web design (e.g., designing websites for those who use screen readers, cannot hear audio, or have difficulty clicking small links). As I worked on that site about six to seven years ago and technology has advanced a lot since then, someone would do well to re-do this project in the current era. Just a thought.

DO-IT Ambassador: Wow, that would a good project to do. People could learn something new.

DO-IT Mentor: Could someone compile a book of DO-IT writings for their project? You Scholars are such awesome writers!!

DO-IT Ambassador: That's what I was thinking. Someone should compile a book of DO-IT writings for their Phase II project. If anyone is interested, I am willing to help out in any way that I can.

DO-IT Director: I think a compilation of DO-IT participant poems and other writings would be a great project.

DO-IT Ambassador: I had fun doing my Phase II project which was a PowerPoint presentation about Little People.

DO-IT Scholar: Hello everybody! I am a 2007 Phase I Scholar and am putting my Phase II project together. I would like to get some input as to how to structure it and make it better for everybody. I am making a music video that I will also be sending in for a scholarship. I am thinking that somehow I can put some of my musical talent into this music video. So if anybody has any ideas please let me know. I also want to make it enjoyable for everybody, so please keep that in mind too. I look forward to your comments.

DO-IT Ambassador: WOO! I just know it's gonna' rock.

DO-IT Scholar: I think you should somehow show that you can play numerous instruments. Show off your talent!

DO-IT Scholar: I agree—show off your talent and make it fun!

DO-IT Scholar: What kind of music video will it be?

DO-IT Scholar: I was thinking about country music. Either that or just get some sheet music for some of my instruments and play them and then meld them together. (If that makes any sense).

DO-IT Scholar: You know how the Phase II Scholars used Google Earth with their [Summer Study presentation] video [at closing ceremonies this year]? Maybe you could mix and match something like that with your musical mastery. Show us where you are from and then rock out with music or something like that. Whatever you do is going to be a smash.

DO-IT Scholar: That is an awesome idea. Danke! (German for thank you). I will try to fit that in somewhere. I still have to pick a song so if I pick one that I can put that into then I will definitely use that idea. Thanks again! ToOdLeS!!!

DO-IT Scholar: I was wondering if you would like to submit something to my anthology of disabled student works. If you are doing an art piece please send it as an attachment. Also send a quick bio about yourself. Thank you for your time, you rule! It will be published next year as a book because my dad's company is giving me a grant.

DO-IT Ambassador: For my Phase II project, I found out more about radios. I was interested in HAM radios at the time, so I did a whole presentation about different kinds of radios, how they work, how to get licensed and things like that. Good luck!

DO-IT Ambassador: My Phase II project was a PowerPoint about forensic science.

DO-IT Scholar: Cool—I might go into the field of forensic science, maybe computer forensics.

DO-IT Ambassador: Ditto. Mine was a

PowerPoint about the different forms of forensic science. Even simple projects can be good ones!

DO-IT Ambassador: I did mine about famous actors and actresses with cerebral palsy and other disabilities using a PowerPoint presentation. Do whatever YOU want to do for your Phase II project.

DO-IT Ambassador: I think the best thing to do [when deciding on a Phase II project] is to pick something you're interested in and research it further. That way it won't seem like a lot of work and you'll be more motivated to do it.