Technology Startup Enables Teens with ASD to Prepare for Presentations

In recent years, developments in technology have enabled individuals on the autism spectrum to learn more effectively, communicate better, as well as develop a wide range of skills. Furthermore, advocates and entrepreneurs have made strides to give those with autism better opportunities to live successful lives, including preparing them for employment.

Danielle Feerst, CEO of AutismSees, is dedicated to helping those on the autism spectrum make successful public presentations. AutismSees is a startup that creates technology, specifically apps for mobile devices and tablets, to help those on the spectrum learn how to best present themselves to others and get their message across.

The first app that Feerst has made available is iPresentWell. Although it is fully functional at its current stage, Feerst and her team aim to add more functionality, such as user eye contact and facial recognition tracking. The apps have been backed by various fundraisers, and the team hopes to bring more attention and funding to AutismSees to increase the capabilities of their technology. Feerst states, “We are hoping to gather user feedback and design feedback with our summer trial partner, Goodwill of Silicon Valley. Goodwill is piloting a program to hire and train youth with higher functioning ASD in job interviews and social skills that they are rolling out this summer. So we have kept in contact with them and are developing a new interactive web application and feature changes for our iOS app this fall.  All money we raise on Seedkicks – AutismSees will go to our development and fall research at Tufts University.

Currently, iPresentWell enables users to import a written script of an oral presentation to their device, as well as monitor their eye movement as they reh
earse their presentation, and even record videos as they present. The app also enables users to set goals for themselves, by measuring their progress and seeing their improvements.

AutismSees was founded to be a tech solution to a common issue amongst those on the autism spectrum, which is a lack of eye contact. Large numbers of teens on the spectrum are graduating high school and need tools to prepare themselves for interviews and the transition into the workforce. AutismSees instills confidence by enabling users to practice open-ended dialogue, presentations, debates, and even gives information on how to build professional relationships.

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