2001 Conference Proceedings

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Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.
Assistant Director-Information Systems
Computing & Communications
Director, DO-IT
University of Washington, Box 354842
Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-0622
FAX (206) 685-4054

Individuals with disabilities continue to face barriers to education and employment. Obstacles to equitable participation include lack of adequate support systems, little access to successful role models, lack of awareness and access to technology that can increase independence and productivity, and negative attitudes and low expectations on the part of faculty and staff with whom they interact (Aksamit, Leuenberger & Morris, 1987; Burns, Armistead & Keys, 1990; "Changing America," 1989; Dunn, 1996; Fonosch & Schwab, 1981; Malcolm & Matyas, 1991). These barriers result in the under-representation of capable students with disabilities completing postsecondary degrees. Moreover, when students with disabilities do attend postsecondary education institutions, they are more likely than their non-disabled peers to attend two-year or vocational programs, rather than four-year degree-granting institutions and many of these students fail to successfully transition to four-year schools.

The 1994 U.S Census Bureau's Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) revealed that more than 70% of people with severe disabilities are not working full- or part-time. People with less severe disabilities also face high rates of unemployment and underemployment. Each year, the lack of labor force participation by people with disabilities costs the economy 200 billion dollars (Profit from our experience, 1995). The United States needs to fully employ all potential workers in order to maximize its productivity and international competitiveness. Increasing the number of students with disabilities completing postsecondary degrees will help solve this problem. The existence of negative attitudes is often reported as the single most significant barrier faced by individuals with disabilities in education and careers. Other barriers include lack of regular access to role models who have disabilities and are successful in educational programs and careers, inaccessible campus lab facilities, lack of encouragement to prepare for challenging fields where they are traditionally underrepresented, and challenges in bridging the gaps between high schools, community colleges, four-year schools, graduate programs, and employment. In addition, faculty and administrators are often unaware of the role computer technology can play in helping students with disabilities reach their potential in postsecondary education and careers. Helping faculty and administrators more fully include students with disabilities in their programs will reduce some of these barriers and increase the success rate of students with disabilities who successfully complete postsecondary programs and enter the workforce.

The DO-IT (Disabilities, Opportunities, Internetworking, and Technology) program at the University of Washington has, since 1992, worked to increase the representation of individuals with disabilities in post-secondary education and employment through direct outreach to students with disabilities; professional development for faculty, teachers, service providers, and employers; and information dissemination. The DO-IT Prof model demonstration project applies lessons learned by DO-IT and other programs to implement a comprehensive professional development program for postsecondary faculty and administrators. DO-IT Prof serves to improve their knowledge and skills in order to make them better able to fully include students with disabilities in academic programs on their campuses. DO-IT Prof is a Model Demonstration Project funded by the U.S. Department of Education Office of Postsecondary Education (Grant # P33A990042). DO-IT Prof is one of 22 Model Demonstration Projects to Ensure Students with Disabilities Receive a Quality Higher Education. Funded by the Office of Postsecondary Education of the U.S. Department of Education, their purpose is to develop innovative, effective, and efficient teaching methods to enhance the skills and abilities of postsecondary faculty and administrators in working with students who have disabilities.

The objectives of the DO-IT Prof project are:

Responding to the diverse content and scheduling needs of faculty and administrators, DO-IT Prof will create and deliver six models of professional development. Technology plays a role in the creation and delivery of all instructional options.

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 campus.

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 tailored workshop for more in-depth training on topics selected for a specific audience.

Model 4: A televised instruction option using a series of videotapes 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.

Project Team

The project team includes faculty, disabled student services staff, and administrators at twenty three institutions of higher education. Each team member has a partner campus. Each participating school is delivering professional development programs, disseminating materials, and exploring strategies for providing technical assistance to faculty and administrators. DO-IT Prof Team members and partner schools include:

Project partners include representatives from AHEAD (Association on Higher Education and Disability), the HEATH Resource Center, the National Center for the Study of Postsecondary Educational Supports Rehabilitation Research and Training Center, and WAPED (Washington Association on Postsecondary Education and Disability).

Project team members participated in a three-day collaborative meeting in Seattle in February of 2000. Before the meeting, team members conducted focus groups with students who have disabilities, teaching assistants, and faculty. At the working meeting, team members discussed faculty and administrator professional development and technical support issues and strategies. They began drafting outlines of professional development materials, made data collection plans, and created timelines for their home institutions.

Discussion and coordination of DO-IT Prof activities take place year-round on an interactive Internet discussion list and via conference calls. At a second collaborative meeting, which will occur in February of 2001, project team members will share lessons learned and work on finalizing project materials and strategies. After the meeting, they will return to their home states and continue to deliver programs, provide formative feedback and statistics, and institutionalize strategies in their institutions and partner schools. Project products, including Web-based and videotaped materials, will continue to be disseminated nation-wide after the project is complete.


DO-IT Prof will serve to improve the knowledge of postsecondary faculty and administrators in order to make them better able to fully include students with disabilities in academic programs on their campuses. The project will result in widespread appropriate professional development for faculty and administrators. Their increased knowledge and skills will contribute to the success of students with disabilities. DO-IT Prof will ultimately increase the numbers of individuals with disabilities who earn baccalaureate and graduate degrees and successfully transition to careers. Completion of this project will have widespread, lasting impacts and contribute to system change within departments, colleges, and campus-wide across the nation.

For more information contact

University of Washington
Box 354842
Seattle, Washington 98195-4842
206-221-4171 (FAX)
206-685-DOIT (voice/TTY)
888-972-DOIT (voice/TTY) WA, outside Seattle
509-328-9331 (voice/TTY) Spokane

Director: Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D.


Aksamit, D., Leuenberger, J., & Morris, M. (1987). Preparation of student services professionals and faculty for serving learning-disabled college students. Journal of College Student Personnel, 28, 53-59.

Burns, J.P., Armistead, L.P. & Keys, R.C. (1990). Developing a transition initiative program for students with handicapping conditions. Community/Junior College, 14, 319-329.

Changing America: The new face of science and engineering. (1989). Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation Task Force on Women, Minorities, and the Handicapped in Science and Technology.

Dunn, C. (1996). A status report on transition planning for individuals with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 29(1), 17-30.

Fonosch, G.G., & Schwab, L. O. (1981). Attitudes of selected university faculty members toward disabled students. Journal of College Student Personnel, 22, 229-235.

Malcolm, S. M., & Matyas, M. L. (Eds.) (1991). Investing in human potential: Science and engineering at the crossroads. Washington, D. C.: American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Profit from our experience (1995). Washington, D.C.: President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities.

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