Autism Speaks and Herox Announce Innovative Winning Solutions of Autism Employment Connect Challenge

June 10, 2022
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New York, NY - June 13, 2022 - Autism Speaks, the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting solutions across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan for people with autism and their families, today announced the winner of the "Autism Employment Connector Challenge,” launched in partnership with HeroX, the leading platform and open marketplace for crowdsourced solutions.  

The Autism Speaks-sponsored Challenge invited innovators age 18 years or older, including jobseekers, employers, students, recruiters and members of the community, to identify solutions that support autistic job seekers navigating the employment search and application process while effectively communicating skills and abilities to prospective employers. 

After careful review by a team of experts, consisting of autistic people, family members of people with autism, service providers, HR professionals and corporations that prioritize inclusive hiring, the three submissions that have been selected as winners include: 

  • 1st place recipient: Team Screen Queens (Beatriz Ramos, Sindhu Bhairavi Kannan and T.H.) for their solution "Zensory-Blissful Job Searching for Autistic Adults." Zensory's design proposal for a web extension and a simple website featured 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. 
  • 2nd place recipient: Carlotta Granholm's team (Carlotta Granholm and Wenyan Liu) for their solution "JobQuest: One goal. One passion. Inclusivity!" The web-based job board design would aim to address the issues with miscommunication and information processing that exist for autistic people and employers during the job search process. The solution would also encourage job seekers to upload an existing resume, upload a video resume, or create a new resume with the help of a prompt. The resume builder would allow the job seeker to detail accomplishments at both paid and unpaid opportunities, highlighting both equally in the final design of the resume. 
  • 3rd place recipient: Rebecca Beam's team (Rebecca Beam and Hilary Kokenda) for their solution "Autism Employment Matching Engine (AEME)." Autistic individuals would interact with this design with the assistance of a Bot that would guide candidates through creating and maintaining an account. The process would also be gamified to incentivize candidates to complete, check, and update their accounts. Candidate profiles could include skills, experience, accommodations, and personal interests. 

In increasing accessibility to employment networking and career development opportunities, the chosen solutions would assist the one in 45 adults on the autism spectrum to leverage their unique talents and skills and overcome some of the difficulties they may experience in navigating certain job interfaces, understanding abstract language and communicating their abilities using traditional text and talk. 

In recognition of their original solutions to help autistic job seekers overcome the challenges of current networking and employment platforms, the Challenge winners will receive $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 USD, respectively. A team of employment experts will further assess the potential and obstacles of each submission, with the goal of furthering employment opportunities that foster the strengths of the autism community as a willing workforce.  

“We are thrilled with the overwhelming response we received to the Autism Employment Challenge and would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the innovators who shared their insightful ideas,” said Keith Wargo, President & CEO, Autism Speaks. “With over 5 million autistic adults in the U.S. and 70,000 teens with autism transitioning from school to employment each year, it is more critical now than ever that job seekers are supported when searching for gainful employment. We’re so grateful to have the opportunity to engage thought leaders to empower the autism community to reach their full potential.”  

"It has been a great pleasure to work with Autism Speaks to drive solutions for a brighter, more inclusive tomorrow,” said Kal. K Sahota, CEO of HeroX. “The success of this challenge is a testament to how crowdsourcing and open innovation can help spearhead novel thinking in so many important spaces - such as job hunting for the neurodiverse population. We are excited to see how this ideation challenge inspires changes to the job search process." 

To learn more about Autism Speaks and how you can support the mission, visit www.AutismSpeaks.org.     

About autism   

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges. A combination of genetic and environmental factors influences the development of autism, and autism often is accompanied by medical issues such as GI disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances. Autism affects an estimated 1 in 44 children and 1 in 45 adults.   

About Autism Speaks   

Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the life span, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families. We do this through advocacy and support; increasing understanding and acceptance of people with autism spectrum disorder; and advancing research into causes and better interventions for autism spectrum disorder and related conditions. To find resources, join an event or make a donation, go to www.AutismSpeaks.org. Learn more by following @AutismSpeaks on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.    

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Contact   
Francesca Cascardo   
Autism Speaks, Manager Communications and Public Relations    
Francesca.cascardo@autismspeaks.org

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