Kathleen: Hi Michael. Bring us up to date on the progress of the project for video modeling.
Michael: Everything is going well. We’ve assembled 188 people to actively participate while others have committed to serving as advisers. I guess that’s a pretty sizable group to rally around a technology that is only now reaching public awareness. And thousands of people have visited our two project sites.
Kathleen: What a wonderful response! That sounds very promising
Michael: Yes, it does. Never having attempted anything like this, I have no way of judging if these are significant numbers. I am also worried about conflicting indicators. One the one hand, I receive positive emails from parents and encouraging posts from educators, researchers and companies marketing associated technologies. These are the people who understood the potential value of such project even before I proposed it. On the other hand, there is to little commentary on my posts. I wish I knew the typical readers to responder ratio I should expect.
I’m really more concerned about the tens of thousands who haven’t heard about us yet. The autism population of the U.S. alone is 1.5 million and I’m concerned people concerned about their welfare learn information that might help. I’d rather this project proceed with their input as well.
Kathleen: You’ve been posting and blogging on technology for autism for more than a year. You’ve posted on The Omni Intelligencer a dozen times. You have more than four thousand followers on your social networks. And I know that, as a result of your efforts for autism, you have become involved with several other interesting projects. Isn’t it safe to assume that many people are aware of the project and are eagerly anticipating the start of the webinar series you’re planning for the Fall?
Michael: Thanks for your confidence. Let’s see if it is warranted now that the stakeholder questionnaire is out. The project will succeed if we have a good turnout I don’t need everyone’s attention; just enough so I can be satisfied we have a valid cross-representation of the autism community. I’m shooting for one thousand responses. Which reminds me. I’ve been so preoccupied with caretakers that I neglected to include a forum for individuals on the spectrum. I’ve distributed announcements through every networking channel I can. I even have a YouTube public service announcement to draw the attention.
Kathleen: A PSA on YouTube? This sounds like a major marketing effort on your part.
Michael: You really have to go all out Kathleen. It’s difficult to draw attention to an idea, especially one that falls so far outside the normal type of Internet discussion. In the past year and a half, I have only come across a handful of people, parents and teachers, who have created their own video modeling clips. There are only five companies that produce VM software. I had to work very hard to get the following we now enjoy. You were an early adopter. I can’t thank you enough for all your past help in promoting news of the project.
Kathleen: Why do you think it’s so hard to reach that “critical mass’ you are looking for?
Michael: The autism community is swamped with information. There is a growing menu of topics they could pursue: therapies, research and advocacy issues. Internet commuters are slowly starting to develop their personal GPS preferences. The fact that I managed to connect to so many of them is encouraging. What I really hope to do is to those who only have enough time to catch up on their email, check FB or follow a few links that look entertaining, fun or quirky. This project will help them as well and I want to hear their voices.
Kathleen: How can people participate in the survey?
Michael: The survey is designed for the autism community: parents, educators, administrators, therapist, researchers and commercial vendors. It can be completed in less than 5 minutes. Responses will help determine the issues to be addressed in the webinar series. Each group will have it’s own meeting so they can focus on issues specific to their role. While administrators and parents share many concerns, they each play different roles in education process. Once every group has had an opportunity to meet, we will hold an inter-group session designed to resolve issues of expectations, coordination and best practice standards. It is important that everyone for themselves. Parents, as parents. Educators, as educators. It would be counter productive for anyone to respond as if they were in another role.
Kathleen: Is this survey only for members of the autism community?
Michael: No. Interested outsiders are welcome to post comments or questions in response to the final question.
Kathleen: How can people help?
Michael: If you are touched by autism in any way, take the survey. If you are not, you surely know some family that is. Do them a service by telling them about the survey.
Information on video modeling is available on www.Tech4autism.com
Kathleen: Very good. Thank you Michael for updating us on your Video Modeling project. I look forward to you sharing your results of the survey and to the upcoming webinar series as well.
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