NeuroClastic is thrilled that, with the help of the generous donations of our readers this month, our nonprofit has retained an autistic developer to create some exciting resources for autistic employment. We have already raised enough to fully fund the development of this website and are now fundraising to staff the administration of these resources– which will be free of charge to the autistic community. Click here to donate to this effort.
Why this project is important for the Autistic community
Autistic adults span a spectrum of career interests, from visual arts to technology to entertainment, and we are often highly skilled, talented, and qualified– even compared to non-autistic peers. We are known for our skill, attention to detail, stamina to focus, novel approaches to problem-solving, and productivity levels.
Despite that, a majority of Autistic individuals struggle to stay employed, with nearly 80% of Autistic adults under- or unemployed. Employers poorly understand the needs of their Autistic employees, and neurotypical expectations during interviewing can lead to poor success rates. Meanwhile, most Autistics are ready, willing, and able to work — provided they are met with acceptance and accommodation. Yet many available job-seeking resources often fail to comprehend Autistic needs, or worse yet, promote underemployment and exploit Autistic workers.
What is the project?
The most successful approach to Autistic employment is self-employment, and social networking is a way for Autistic businesses to find each other. Through the course of 6-9 months, Markmakers can deliver a set of three applications, each designed to build on each other until the completion of a professional social networking application developed by Autistics, for Autistics.
The applications include:
1. a self-service directory of Autistic businesses, freelancers, and contractors
2. a job and gig board seeking Autistic employees
3. a combination of the aforementioned two apps that adds in individual and business profiles, a mobile application, and aspects that allow NeuroClastic to further develop and provide expanded services and access points like scholarships, nonprofits, disability services, etc.
About Jeni Grant and MarkMakers
Jeni Grant is an award-winning autistic software developer and engineer with 25 years of experience in the field. They have created major growth transition points for startup businesses and reliable results for Fortune 50 and billions of shoppers. Markmakers is the brainchild of Jeni Grant, a technology cooperative seeking to provide empowered, accessible jobs to those otherwise unable to maintain regular employment due to disabilities. Currently Jeni is d/b/a Markmakers; the business is due to be incorporated with a board of five members in Summer 2021.
- Provide a directory of Autistic-owned businesses, freelancers, and contractors that allows user updating and basic moderation functionality for NeuroClastic.
- Aggregate job opportunities with employers who are autism accepting and provide an Autistic-friendly method of contact.
- Offer a professional networking application built for Autistic individuals and employers looking to hire Autistics.
Through each phase of application building, Markmakers will work with NeuroClastic and Autistic community members to define the features for each phase, utilizing a user-centered approach in order to create an easy to use application.
Phase I: The Directory
The first delivery is a self-service directory of Autistic businesses and contractors. It will allow Autistic business people to add and update their own business information. Others will then be able to peruse these listings through a variety of categories as defined by user testing. NeuroClastic will be able to administer these listings through a dashboard and moderation functionality.
Phase II: The Job Board
The second is a job and gig board seeking Autistic employees. Employers will be able to post a job listing, and have a job application designed for Autistic needs that forwards information to the recruiting employer. NeuroClastic will have the ability to verify these listings in order to display them more prominently. Markmakers encourages NeuroClastic to charge employers over a certain shareholder value to be listed on the site, in order for the site to become self-sustaining.
Phase III: Networking
The third combines the two aspects and adds in individual and business profiles and becomes a full featured application. The application will allow Autistic job searchers to find an opportunity, apply, monitor their application’s process, and potentially interview through online meetings. NeuroClastic will have limited oversight in the candidate process and other features as decided by the needs defined through preliminary user experience research.
The estimated time frame for all phases is six to nine months until completion, with a launch approximately every three months. NeuroClastic and MarkMakers agree that this timeline is tentative. Though we will make every effort to meet the following deadlines, we acknowledge that the actual timeline may be slightly longer.
|User Research, Modeling, UX Design||Three Weeks|
|Development, Autistic Business Directory||Six Weeks|
|Development, Job Board for Autistics||Six to Nine Weeks|
|Development, Professional Social Network||Twelve to Sixteen Weeks|
|Full Testing and Analytics Monitoring||Four Weeks|
Bartering and Trading of Services
NeuroClastic and MarkMakers are looking into ways to facilitate trading and bartering of service through this site among autistic business owners and freelancers. For example, an autistic podcaster may offer commercial advertisement on their podcast episodes in exchange for logo services from an autistic illustrator. Another example may be that an autistic copy editor reviews the website content of a developer in exchange for web design services.