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Calls to Action

ITA Special Interest Group

September 12, 2007

Cure Autism Now (CAN) and Autism Speaks are sponsoring "Interactive Technologies for Autism," a Special Interest Group at this year's Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)

Computer-Human Interaction conference in San Jose, Calif., on April 28. The Special Interest Group will bring together leading researchers, developers and clinicians to impact the development of products that improve the lives of individuals with autism. CAN and Autism Speaks' Innovative Technology for Autism chair Daniel Gillette and Georgia Institute of Technology doctoral candidate Gillian Hayes have organized the Special Interest Group. In addition, Dr. Gregory Abowd of Georgia Institute of Technology, a member of the Innovative Technology for Autism advisory board, will receive a Social Impact Award at the conference.

Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) is the premiere international conference for Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Each year, CHI is a venue for over 2,000 HCI professionals, academics and students to discuss HCI issues and research and make lasting connections in the HCI community. In addition, almost 50 industry exhibitors attend CHI to showcase their user-experience products and departments and to recruit professionals to enhance their business. Highest level sponsors of the conference include Intel Corp., followed by Cisco Systems, Inc.; Cooper; Google, Inc.; Intuit; Microsoft Corp.; NSF; SAP AG; Sun Microsystems; and Yahoo!, Inc. This is the first time that CHI has dedicated a Special Interest Group to autism.

"We are thrilled that CHI is hosting a Special Interest Group on autism," says Dr. Sophia Colamarino, Science Director for CAN. "This conference is the perfect venue for industry-leading academics and professionals to apply their technological expertise to the challenges presented by autism."

The Special Interest Group will discuss several potential applications for technology to improve the quality of life for individuals with autism. Topics include assistive technologies; tools for data collection and analysis; educational software; virtual reality rehabilitation environments; and user-centered collaborative design processes for individuals that cannot speak or write. The Special Interest Group will form the basis for collaborative projects in technology and autism moving forward.

CAN and Autism Speaks fund projects such as this through their Innovative Technology for Autism (ITA) initiative. By sponsoring grants, workshops and courses, ITA supports the development of products that provide real-world solutions to issues faced by those with autism, their families, educators, healthcare specialists and researchers. Funded projects include communication aids, educational software, data capture tools, interactive games, virtual reality rehabilitation environments and therapeutic robots.

The CHI Special Interest Group "Interactive Technologies for Autism" is presented by Daniel Gillette of Greenleaf Institute; Gillian R. Hayes of Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Computing; Gregory D. Abowd of Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Computing; Justine Cassell of Northwestern University's Center for Technology and Social Behavior; Rana el Kaliouby of MIT's Media Laboratory; Dorothy Strickland of Do2Learn; and Patrice (Tamar) Weiss of University of Haifa in Israel.

For more information about the Computer-Human Interaction conference, please go to