DO-IT News June 1994

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Volume 2, Number 2

Below are the articles of the DO-IT News June 1994 newsletter. These articles can also be seen all on one page at the Full Newsletter option.

In This Issue

DO-IT mentor Ed Pottharst details his visit to Russia and Rachel tells all about a tour of Battelle Labs. For those stories, an award-winning essay by Randy, and more, read on.

Director's Digressions

Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.

This has been a busy spring for DO-IT Scholars. Rachel and Katie arranged a tour of Battelle Pacific Northwest Laboratory in Richland. Several of the old-timer DO-IT Scholars and two of the new recruits attended along with staff member Dan Comden. Rachel's entertaining report of her experiences is in this issue.

DO-IT Scholar Randy won runner-up in an essay competition with his insightful piece on using the Internet. The national contest was sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics, the NASA K-12 Internet Project, and the National Science Foundation. Randy's prize-winning story in the grade 10-12 category is also reproduced in this issue.

Congratulations also go to DO-IT Scholar Anna. Anna won a prestigious NASA Space Grant Scholarship to the University of Washington. The award covers four years tuition, two years room and board and half room and board plus a part-time job to cover the second two years.

We can also congratulate Rachel for securing a full-summer paid internship at Battelle Laboratories. Way to go Rachel!

The DO-IT Advisory Board Members have spent the last few months reviewing applications for the new DO-IT Scholars. Narrowing the field has not been easy, but the task is done. Adaptive technology specialist Dan Comden has begun the job of designing and installing the individualized computer systems that DO-IT Scholars use as participants in this program. Soon, the new group of Scholars will have the opportunities so well described by Rachel and Randy in this issue.

Another successful Computer Fair has been planned and was presented on March 17-18. The DO-IT booth was especially well-received. Special marks go to Scholars Nhi, Mitch, Randy, Rodney, Anna and several Mentors for helping out in the booth. Randy, Mitch and Mentor Kevin Berg also joined me and Dr. Ray Bowen in a DO-IT presentation that was well attended.

DO-IT was also well represented at the annual Engineering Open House where our new videos were a popular attraction. Scholars Rodney and Katie and Mentor Susan Valdez were especially helpful at our information table.

Dan, Anna and I were guests on the Evergreen Radio Reading Service live talk show. Two mentors, Frank Cuta and Eric Ho, called in with questions and comments. Anna also demonstrated technology at North Seattle Community College.

Career mentor Dr. Elizabeth Thompson and post-secondary Mentor Kevin Berg joined me in a panel discussion of DO-IT at a technology conference in Bellevue.

I have given presentations about DO-IT, adaptive technologies and the Internet at a Cooperative Education Association Conference in Florida and a Northwest Cooperative Education Association Conference in Washington.

Dan and I gave a presentation at an adaptive technology conference at California State University - Northridge. In addition, Dan demonstrated equipment at the Spinal Cord Institute in Seattle. DO-IT staff, Mentors and others delivered a one day workshop to students with disabilities and their parents in April.

On another note, congratulations to Nikki (DO-IT staff) and Rod Stauber on the birth of their daughter, Alita Rai.

Write On, Randy

Randy, DO-IT Scholar

Randy's essay won runner up in a national contest sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics, the NASA K-12 Internet project and the National Science Foundation.

My name is Randy, and I am a junior at Timberline High School in Lacey, Washington. I am totally blind; with two glass eyes. I have been blind all my life, and have never known anything different. I have been mainstreamed in schools all my life, and have always had to depend on others to get me school materials. If I needed or wanted a book for class, it had to be transcribed into braille or put on tape. However, in August of last year a whole new door was opened to me. I am a member of the DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking and Technology) Program at the University of Washington. This program is funded greatly by the National Science Foundation. It gives high school students with disabilities the chance to overcome their challenges by the use of the Internet.

Getting Internet access was the best thing that ever happened to me. In a way, my computer and access to the net has become my eyes to the world. I can read a newspaper, talk to people around the world, and get materials for class papers, unlike before when I had to depend on others to get the resources I needed.

Upon receiving my access in August of 1993, I was able to read a newspaper for the first time in my life. This may sound trivial but to me it was a great accomplishment. I was not aware of the variety of topics covered by newspapers. I knew about the front page, feature articles, and sports section, for instance, but I did not know of the huge amount of stories in these sections. I was amazed. Before getting access I had to get sighted people to read me the paper. However, with the help of a screen reader and a host at the University of Washington called UWIN (University of Washington Information Navigator), I browsed through the paper, found just what I wanted to read, and read it. I can even mail myself the articles and save them; somewhat like how you cut articles that you like out of the paper to save for future reference. This was amazing to me. And not only can I read the Washington Post, but also the Moscow News, and several other papers mainly used by scientists. So, the net has helped me get in better contact with the world via online newspapers.

Many of you know of IRC or some other type of chat systems. This caught my by surprise when I first started on the net. I am taking German in high school, and plan to be a foreign language expert. If I want to try out my German on people, I just telnet to Germany, and try it on actual Germans (who are really strict teachers, and who catch every mistake you make. I know, I have made many.) Another aspect of the chat systems is talking to people about current events. I can telnet to a chat system and talk to people from California about the earthquakes there, or from Kansas City and ask about the Chiefs chances in the Superbowl. Thus, the net is a tool for me to get feedback from people all over the world on what they think of different things, and it's an interesting way to make new friends.

But the best aspect of the net is the ability to get information on any topic. There are lots of ways to do this. First, you can join a "listserv" and find out about a topic from experts. Though I haven't joined a listserv yet, I may do so in the near future. Second, you can e-mail an expert in a field with a question and get an answer to your question quickly. But the best way to get materials is through Gopher Space. I recently needed information on Poland. I entered Gopher Space, moved to a server in Poland itself, and there I found all the information I needed on my subject. Also, there are encyclopedias, dictionaries, and thesauruses in the Gopher Space. If a server does not have the information you need, you can just find another that will either have the exact material, or one that has some sort of information book and use it to get the information that you need.

In closing, the Internet has become a great part of my life. In the seven months that I have had access to the net, I have built up over two hundred hours on it. I use it to find out about current events, do research papers for school, and just talk to people about everyday life. I would recommend the Internet to anyone that needs these services. It is hard now to remember how I lived without this wealth of materials and information at my fingertips.

NOTE: Randy uses a computer with a screen reader and voice synthesizer. Essentially, his adaptive technology "reads" the screen text to him.

Doing Virtually Nothing or, How Not to Treat Your HIT Lab Job

Rodney, DO-IT Scholar

It was a warm September evening when I made my way to the University of Washington's HIT Lab at Fluke Hall. I had a meeting with one of the project's directors, Dr. Tom Furness. I was seeking employment there on a sort of Work from Home basis, perhaps writing things and then later programming "virtual worlds" for use with their hardware.

The interview was interesting, and I explained my abilities and interests with Dr. Furness. My first assignment was to write an article which was to be more of a review of my experiences during the Summer at the HIT Lab. For those of you who may not know, as part of the DO-IT Summer Program, all sixteen of us were invited to the HIT Lab to experience the primitive, however quickly developing, technology.

Those of us who were sighted got to be taken on tours of small and simplistic universes, and those of us who were visually impaired got to experience virtual sound source positions. That is, a pair of earphones were worn and sound came through them as if it was coming from above or below. What made this even more notable is that if you turned your head the sound would stay in the same spot.

I was given the mission of writing a review of my experiences. The following are a few excerpts from my article to illustrate further my impressions, but mostly just to take up space: "Overall, I left Fluke Hall ... with the feeling that this had all the elements to a classic upstart of a new and promising technology..." The difference between my flight simulator and virtual reality is that when I'm doing the old reliable Gates Learjet cruise from Chicago to Seattle, and during the flight I turn my head to the left, I see the clutter of books on my table, the back side of my radio, and in the distance I can see my closet with all my clothes. When I turn my head to the right I am facing a wall and I can see this poem I had tacked to it that I've never bothered to read, the naked 5-month-old on my Nirvana poster, and my phone--in the distance I see nothing, because, alas, my x-ray eyeglasses are missing. However, in the virtual world so graciously demonstrated that evening by the HIT Lab, if I turned my head to the left I saw the wall of the room that I was "virtually" in. There were a few floating animals in this room, and there were--if my memory serves me correctly--a few plants on the ground one might find in a fish tank. And if I turned my head to the right I could possibly see that elusive fish I was supposed to catch swimming away. This is the magic I see in virtual reality.

And now getting down to an explanation of the title of this article, well, the piece I was assigned to do for the HIT Lab Review is pretty much all I've done thus far. The moral of the story is, when you go all the way up to Seattle for an interview with someone who can give you a good opportunity, and they do, try accomplishing more than a short little write-up...

Fish, Robots and Fun

Rachel, DO-IT Scholar

The Battelle tour was great! I really enjoyed it, and I think everyone else did too! It was lots of fun and we all learned a bunch of interesting stuff at the same time. Now, everything was really good and presented very well, but I think I can speak for everybody when I say that I really had fun playing in the Robotics Lab and the Fisheries Biology Lab.

The Robotics Lab was a bundle of fun! It got pretty interesting when Anna got her hands on the Low Signature Vehicle demo remote control! Dan never knew how much rough terrain his leg of the tour entailed until then. Robotics also had a Fog Camera demo. We were shown how fliers see through fog. Another thing in Robotics was a Robotic Arm. This arm is used to handle nuclear warheads. That was cool!

The other main highlight of the tour was the Biology Fisheries lab. Some interesting words to describe the lab would probably be wet and slimy! It was lots of fun. We all got the opportunity to feed and pet and hold some of the sea life. The lab was just a splash of fun!

Journey to Russia

Ed Pottharst, DO-IT Mentor

The riotously colored onion-shaped domes of St. Basil's Cathedral in immense bronze statue of Lenin gazing sternly out over thousands of young Russians dancing to rap music...smiles bursting out on the faces of deaf children as we visited their classrooms. These are three memories I cherish from my two-week trip to Russia in September 1993.

I traveled with a delegation of 54 educators, audiologists, psychologists, hearing instrument specialists, and adults who are hearing impaired. The purpose of the trip, sponsored by the Spokane-based Citizen Ambassador Program of People to People, was to give our delegates a look at education of children with hearing impairments in Moscow, Stavropol, and St. Petersburg. The trip also gave us an opportunity to share American education methods of teaching deaf children.

We learned that the challenges faced by Russian educators of the deaf are daunting. There is a general lack of good amplification for most students. Hearing aids are scarce and costly. Trained teachers are in short supply. Mainstreaming as we know it is a rarely used option.

Nonetheless, Russian teachers of the deaf are highly dedicated. The hearing-impaired children we saw look just like American school children: bright, warm, cheerful. Deaf Russian teens and young adults are ambitious. They are eager to take advantage of the technology available elsewhere (e.g., TTYs, telephone relay services).

The Russians we met, from educators to tour bus guides and drivers, were brimming with pride and optimism about the recent momentous changes in their country. They were worried, too, about the difficulties that have accompanied these political and economic changes. But they expressed confidence that the changes are irreversible. They shared with us their dreams for themselves, their children, and their country.

My trip inspired me. It also made me more appreciative of the opportunities that people with disabilities have in our country. I hope that we can have more exchanges of this kind. This way, people with disabilities all over the world will have the best opportunity to live happy and productive lives.

DO-IT Does Teleconferencing

On May 10, Dr. Ray Bowen (Dean, UW College of Engineering) and Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler (DO-IT director) participated in a panel that was telecast to colleges and universities across the country as part of the teleconference series "Engineering Faculty Forum."

The panel also included Dr. Lawrence Scadden, senior program director of the National Science Foundation Program for Persons with Disabilities; Peter Axelson, President of Beneficial Design, Inc.; and Marilyn Berman, associate dean of Engineering at the University of Maryland.

The broadcast, sponsored by the Department of Energy, addressed issues concerning the impact of legislation and technology on education and careers in engineering to students with disabilities; assistive technology and accommodations in the classroom, lab and worksite; recruitment and retention of undergraduate students with disabilities; and the value of diversity in the engineering workforce.

Technology Tips

Dan Comden

Transferring files between home and hawking

A few people have asked for instructions on transferring documents created in Word to their accounts on hawking.


If you have a document you've created on your home machine that you want to mail to someone, you need to convert it to text, upload to your hawking account, and then import it into the mail message your are sending. If you wish to retain the formatting (bold, underlining, different fonts, etc.) you only need to upload the file and send it as an attachment to your electronic mail message.

Procedure for Sending a Document as the Text of a Mail Message

  1. While in your Word Processor (Word, for most of you), load the document you wish to transfer.
  2. From the File menu, choose Save As. This should bring up the Save Dialog Box.
  3. Choose Text Only. You should change the filename so you don't overwrite your original document. Adding ".txt" to the end of the file name is a standard method of naming text files. NOTE: if you are using a Macintosh, make sure that there are no spaces in the filename!
  4. Click on Save to save the Document. Make note of the directory or folder in which the file is saved. For this example, we'll say the file is named BLEGGA.TXT and is in the \WINWORD directory on a PC.
  5. Quit your word processor and start your communication software (Zterm for the Mac users, Telix or Commo for PC users).
  6. Log in to hawking by your normal method. Don't start Pine yet!
    • Zterm Users (Mac): In the File menu, choose Send Zmodem (command-S). This brings up a dialog box where you can change folders and select the file to upload. When a file has been selected, click on the Add button, and then on the Start button to begin the transfer. Hawking should recognize that a file is being sent and begin to receive it.
    • Telix Users (PC): Hit Alt-S and select the Zmodem protocol from the popup box. Next, enter the path and file name of the document you wish to transfer (e.g. \WINWORD\ BLEGGA.TXT) and hit return. Hawking should recognize that a file is being sent and begin to receive it.
  7. After the file has been received, start up Pine. Get into Compose Message mode, and when your cursor is in the body of your message, hit Ctrl-R (for Read File). Enter the file name (e.g. "blegga.txt") and hit return. That's all there is to it!

Procedure for Sending a Document as an Attachment

Begin with Step 5 and work your way through the remainder of the steps. NOTE: Mac users: it is very important that the file name has no spaces!

For Step 8, instead of reading the file into the body of your mail message, you can use the attach feature of Pine to send your document. After the file has been correctly received, go ahead and start Pine. While in Compose Message mode, move the cursor to the Attchmnt: line, and hit Ctrl-J. When prompted for the file name, enter it here. You don't need to send an attachment comment, unless you wish to indicate the original format of the document (Mac vs. PC, word processor format, etc.) but you can do this just as well in the body of your message.

Congratulations Graduates

Four DO-IT Scholars are soon to graduate from high school:

  • Anna
  • Lloyd
  • Rodney
  • Mitch

All are planning to pursue a higher education, but all final decisions about where they'll enroll have not been made. DO-IT staff, of course, want them all to come to the U-Dub!

DO-IT Helps with the Transition to College

More than thirty pre-college students with disabilities, parents, teachers and service providers attended a full-day workshop sponsored by DO-IT at the University of Washington. Topics covered in "Making the Transition to College" included transition strategies, college entrance requirements, campus services and resources, financial strategies and computer and network use.

DO-IT staff Dr. Sheryl Burgstahler and Dan Comden gave presentations on DO-IT activities, computers, adaptive technology and the Internet. Special speakers included Kathy Cook of Disabled Student Services, Dr. Kurt Johnson of UW Rehabilitative Medicine and Martha Hansen of the College of Education. Participants were invited to tour the UW Adaptive Technology Lab.

The highlight of the day was a panel featuring DO-IT mentors who shared their personal experiences attending colleges and universities as disabled students. Martha Hansen talked about issues for students with mobility impairments, French Ledger shared his experiences as a student with a learning disability, Dean Martineau shared ideas to help blind students to have a successful college experience, and Dr. Ephraim Glinert told of college experiences as a student with low vision. Participants appreciated the willingness of these panelists to share personal experiences and give practical advice to potential students.

Responses to the program were positive. Plans are underway to repeat the program next year.

DO-IT Does Videos

DO-IT has created two dynamic videos. In "DO-IT Scholars," the summer '93 participants are the stars. Nhi voices the concerns of many when she expressed her initial fears about staying at the University for two weeks, "The UW is such a big place!"

Hollis shares how the computer allows him to express his "ideas to other people." Mark tells how he uses a mini-keyboard to access his computer.

Lloyd talks about how he enjoys exploring the Internet and Randy shares his dorm experiences by saying "The early bird catches the shower." Nadira sums up with "It's really a great program." To receive a free copy of the video, call or write the DO-IT office.

The second video tape, "Working Together: Faculty and Students with Disabilities," was created to help college and university faculty become more aware of the potential and academic needs of students with disabilities.

Within the tape, successful post secondary students and faculty discuss strategies for working together. DO-IT mentors Karl Booksh, Wendy Pava, Kevin Berg and Gay Lloyd Pinder are featured. U.S. West funded the creation of this video tape and NEC Foundation of America has funded its distribution to engineering colleges nationwide. Others can purchase this video tape with the accompanying written materials for $25.