Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, sensory perceptions, movement, executive function, speech and nonverbal communication. Finding a job can be difficult for anyone. For those on the autism spectrum, finding a job can have its own unique challenges. While autistics have great talents and skills that employers desire, some autistic jobseekers struggle to communicate their abilities using the current networking and job posting platforms. Whether it be the general site interface or abstract language, traditional employment websites can be difficult for many with autism to navigate. Autism Speaks sponsored the Autism Employment Connector Challenge to provide autistic job seekers with a solution to aid in the search and application process to potential employers.
In this challenge, Autism Speaks took advantage of several different HeroX services. For example, they used the Challenge Design Review service to tap into the HeroX’s challenge design expertise, while doing the majority of the “heavy lifting” themselves. They worked with HeroX to succinctly articulate the problem and to help the crowd understand that they were looking for completely out-of-the-box ideas. In fact, they were adamant that “the more out-there, the better!” as they wanted to avoid recycled ideas that have been used in the past to little effect. After judging was completed, three teams were awarded with prizes for their novel approaches to making employment opportunities more accessible for autistics.
This challenge closed with 26 entries. 15 entries were short-listed for a more detailed review by judges, and ultimately three winners were selected. Autism Speaks got their wish for out-of-the-box solutions with some submissions being so novel that no one on their very experienced team had ever thought of them. For example, the winning solution was a proposal for a web extension and a simple website featuring elements including a resume maker, video, and image uploads. Its compatibility with all popular job platforms would provide tools to help adults on the autism spectrum apply across multiple job boards. Autism Speaks is looking forward to exploring the next steps for these winning ideas, following the close of this ideation challenge.