(Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking & Technology)
Project Number 11 – 1993
Computing & Communications and
Director of Project DO-IT
University of Washington
JE-25, Seattle, WA 98195
Fax: (206) firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Individuals And Organizations Associated With The Project
National Science Foundation; Batelle Laboratories; U.S. West;
Washington State Information Processing Consortium; ANS; NorthWestNet;
Clark College; University of Puget Sound; Southern Oregon State University;
Portland State University; Apple; K-12 schools;
The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 forbids discrimination against people with disabilities in access to public services, public accommodations, telecommunications, and employment. For colleges and universities, this act has reinforced the requirements set forth in Section 504 and created a new level of awareness of the rights of disabled students. Although many colleges and universities have made efforts to comply with federal regulations, much progress must be made before our campuses are truly accessible to disabled students.
Although commercially available adaptive hardware and software make it possible for individuals with disabilities to use computers, it is not widely available on college campuses. Electronic communications provide new options for accessing people and resources through online discussion groups, mail services, library catalogs, encyclopedias, dictionaries, and other reference materials, newspapers, and other information resources. The computer, when appropriately adapted for access, allows the disabled student to use computer software, to communicate with peers and faculty, and to access electronic information without assistance. It materially enhances his/her ability to complete a standard curriculum.
The Task Force on Women, Minorities and the Handicapped in Science and Technology (1989) recommended that actions be taken to increase the participation of people with disabilities in science and engineering programs, where they have been, to date, underrepresented. Although most attention to educational reform has been given to precollege science and mathematics education, colleges and universities must be involved if this goal is to be reached.
In the project DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) the University of Washington is making efforts to recruit and retain disabled students in engineering, mathematics, and science academic programs and careers. The project includes four components:
- Summer Program
In a live-in summer program, high school students with disabilities study engineering, mathematics, and science through lectures, science labs, and computer exercises. Computer applications and educational software, electronic mail, and resources on the Internet network are used extensively. In preparation, the students selected for this program are given personal computers with the necessary adaptive hardware and software to use in their homes and to connect via modem to computer resources on the UW campus and elsewhere over the Internet network.
Through electronic communications and joint projects using the Internet, a mentoring program brings high school students with disabilities together with college students, faculty, and practicing engineers and scientists, some with disabilities themselves. In addition, a series of science-related activities (e.g., UW Computer Fair, UW Health Sciences Open House, Westinghouse Science Competition) encourages personal interactions.
- Information Dissemination
Materials for recruiting and retaining disabled students are being produced and distributed in a variety of forms, including videotape, audiotape, computer disks, electronic files accessible over the Internet network, and written brochures in standard, large, and Braille print. A conference will provide an opportunity for dissemination of materials for recruitment/retention as well as those developed specifically for the summer program. They can be adapted for use by other schools.
- Disability Awareness
Quarterly faculty, staff, and student presentations increase the awareness of barriers faced by students with disabilities and present creative and practical approaches for providing access to instruction and campus services to students with disabilities. Presentations for high school counselors and teachers are being prepared.
It is expected that this project will increase the number of students enrolling in science, mathematics, and engineering programs at the University of Washington and will decrease the attrition rate of these students. The methods developed will serve as models for recruiting and retaining students with disabilities in other colleges at the University as well as on other campuses across the country.
- DO-IT makes extensive use of the Internet network. In the summer program students with disabilities learn about Internet tools and gain experiences in accessing science resources, libraries, and other Internet information resources. In addition, they will use the Internet to access discussion groups and electronic mentors who are postsecondary students and particing engineers and scientists who have disabilities themselves.
- The value of library and other information resources will be demonstrated by students with disabilities who have adaptive technology that allow access. For example, blind students will use voice output in accessing library resources, dictionaries, and newspapers; and students with severe mobility impairments will use alternative input devices to access these resources from their home. Such experiences give concrete examples of the power of the Internet to bring resources to learners.
- This project is a collaborative effort between the National Science Foundation, corporations, institutions of higher education, Internet service providers, and K-12 schools.
- DO-IT efforts empower individuals with disabilities to be more independent learners and employees.
- Many aspects of the DO-IT project can be replicated in other institutions of higher education and K-12 school settings. Information dissemination of this nature is an important aspect of DO-IT.
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