Innovation: Empowering and Employing People with Autism
Award Recognition: Honorable Mention
SAP recently launched a global collaboration with Specialisterne to employ people with autism in best-fit roles such as software testing. Specialisterne is an internationally recognized leader in harnessing the talents of people with autism to work in technology-oriented jobs such as software testing and programming.
The first stage of this journey was a pilot program in SAP Labs India called Project Prayas. This initiative focuses on education, employability, and engagement of people with autism.
The program entails:
• Delivering solutions to support learning and communication of children with autism
• Train-the-trainer efforts for educators and parents of children with autism
• Providing employment opportunities for people with autism
• Empowering mentors and team members to collaborate successfully with their colleagues with autism
In June 2011, SAP Labs India partnered with the Autism Society of India in the creation of a computer assisted lab. SAP donated equipment and developed an iPad application, Bol, for autistic children and their families. Bol uses instant auditory and visual feedback to help children learn and comprehend everyday objects and activities and includes content localized for children in India. SAP also launched one of the world’s first open source learning platforms for autism (www.learn4autism.com).
SAP Labs India developed Train-the-Trainer programs and conducted a master trainer program for forty educators from across India and Bangladesh to train them on the ‘Prayas’ methodology, which leverages technology to support people with autism.
In addition, the Suite Test Engineering (STC) group at SAP Labs India hired six people with autism as software testers. As a result of this pilot effort, the team has increased their cohesiveness and productivity in key areas. These testers with autism have been completely integrated into the STC team and are responsible for end-to-end browser testing of the SAP Business Suite.
Each employee with autism has a mentor assigned to work with them on both technical and social aspects of their jobs. These mentors also work closely with the parents of the employees with autism who help remove roadblocks. Workshops were organized to sensitize the entire STC team on how to best handle interactions with these colleagues.