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India experience was the key to SAP's global decision to employ autistics in software testing

Bangalore and Walldorf ( Germany) May 23, 2013: Encouraging experience with autistics in software testing work in Bangalore, is the main trigger for SAP’s  global announcement yesterday that it will to employ people with autism, as software testers, programmers and data quality assurance specialists. 
It will work  with Specialisterne, an internationally recognized leader in harnessing the talents of people with autism to work in technology-oriented jobs.
The enterprise application software leader sees a potential competitive advantage to leveraging the unique talents of people with autism, while also helping them to secure meaningful employment. It is estimated that one percent* of the world’s population is affected by autism (Autism Spectrum Disorder).
Under the leadership of its then India Managing Director V R Ferose ( see IndiaTechOnline story . In February, he moved on from the company), the Bangalore SAP Labs partnered with the Spastics Society of Karnataka and supported the creation of Prayas ( “Attempt) where individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders were imparted training in the use of computers and iPads. 
The head of Prayas, Kavitha Sharma , the mother of an autistic child, was supported to create an iPad app, “Bol” ( “Say”)to assist with the education of children with autism. This innovative learning program helps children learn and comprehend simple, everyday objects and processes, using auditory, visual and instant feedback functions. Find the app here 
Said Ferose: “Beginning in a small way, we hired four autistics and trained them to take up software testing. Each individual was assigned a buddy. The buddies apart from being experienced testers were individuals who were passionate about doing something different. The biggest criterion for being a buddy was compassion. The buddies slowly became their partners not just at work, but much beyond that.
In six months, we found that these special individuals were not just able to remember complex testing sequences, but also execute without any errors. Apart from the very tangible business outcome, these special individuals had the ability to spread happiness amongst the rest of the team. Their loyalty and commitment to the company was never once at doubt and they were very motivated. ” ( Quoted in Indian Express )
The initiative also saw a series of monthly iPad workshops for parents and teachers working with autistic children, conducted by SAP Labs volunteers from their Whitefield campus.
“The person who inspired me was the Danish entrepreneur Thorkil Sonne, the founder of Specialisterne. Together we have taken the mission to create a million jobs for autistics across the globe!”( Quoted in  CNN Business blogs )
SAP has also tried employing autistics in Ireland where pilot is currently completing the screening phase for five positions to be filled this year. SAP will expand the program globally, starting in the U.S., Canada and Germany in 2013.
About Specialisterne
Specialisterne translates from Danish as “The Specialists”, and was originally founded in Denmark by Thorkil Sonne in 2004. Specialisterne is a socially innovative business that uses the characteristics of people with autism as a competitive advantage, and as a means to help people with autism secure employment. The majorityof the employees in Specialisterne have a diagnosis on the autism spectrum, and work as consultants on tasks such as software testing, programming and data-entry for the corporate sector 




    


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