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Autism, Innovation, & the Workforce: Envisioning the Future of Human Technology Partnerships HTF Fall Conference

Date: November 29, 2018

Time: 8:30AM to 5:00PM

Location: Hilton Garden Inn Nashville Vanderbilt, 1715 Broadway, Nashville


Autism, Innovation, & the Workforce: Envisioning the Future of Human Technology Partnerships HTF Fall Conference

Thursday, November 29, 2018
Hilton Garden Inn Nashville Vanderbilt, 1715 Broadway, Nashville

Click here to view the HTF Conference website.

Join us for a day of learning and exploring as we showcase technologies and innovations designed to help people on the autism spectrum develop their strengths, find meaningful employment, and succeed in the workplace. This conference is for innovators and practitioners who are developing, planning, or commercializing technologies that advance employment opportunities for individuals with autism. We also welcome educators, students, self-advocates, community organizations, and family members at a discounted rate to learn about and experience these emerging technologies. The conference is supported in part by the National Science Foundation’s Human-Technology Frontiers (HTF) program.

Participants who bring demos of their technologies will have the opportunity for short presentations to promote their technology and have the opportunity to exhibit their demos throughout the day. Those selected to demo/exhibit their technologies will have up to two registrations waived.

Technology Showcases

The centerpiece of the HTF Conference will be “technology showcases,” featuring innovations for adults on the spectrum seeking/maintaining meaningful employment. The context for the meeting is a model employment pipeline — which we call the Nashville Model — that seeks to embed helpful human-technology partnerships into the journey toward employment for people on the autism spectrum.

Relevant technologies may include, but are not limited to: novel measures of individual abilities and strengths relevant to work; virtual or augmented reality based approaches to developing social skills and other skills relevant to gaining and maintaining employment; tech-based delivery of trainings for individuals and/or organizations; immersive learning environments; etc. Examples from Vanderbilt that will be showcased include a driving simulator with eye-tracking capabilities to help autistic teens and adults become ready for on-the-road driving instruction, online games to develop collaborative work skills, and mobile app versions of new visuo-spatial tests to measure autistic “visual thinking” strengths.

We are actively seeking demonstrations of prototypes and/or technology still in the Research & Development phase or else early in the commercialization stage. We are not soliciting requests for exhibitors marketing mature products. Interested participants can submit proposals for tech exhibits when they register to attend the HTF Conference. Those whose proposals are accepted by the planning committee will have the opportunity to share their work, promote their technology, meet other innovators in the field, and exhibit their demos throughout the day. In addition, accepted exhibitors will have up to two registration fees waived to staff their exhibit area and take part in the conference.

Exhibitors are encouraged to arrive the day before the meeting in order to have time early in the morning of the conference for demo setup.

Keynote Speaker Temple Grandin

We are so excited to have Dr. Temple Grandin, a celebrated autism self-advocate, serve as our HTF Conference keynote speaker. In addition to participating in this conference, Dr. Grandin will also deliver a capstone lecture at Vanderbilt University’s Student Life Center at 6:30 that evening. Participants in the HTF Conference have the option to reserve seats as part of registration.

Autism Self-Advocate Panel Discussion

The planning committee is working on putting together a compelling panel of autism self-advocates to share personal stories of employment successes and struggles and to discuss their experiences and their aspirations for technologies to support autism at work. Interested self-advocates may indicate interest to participate in the panel as part of registration. Selected panelists will have their registration fee waived.

Registration Fees

  • Professional: $250
  • K-12 Educator: $50
  • Family Member: $50
  • Student: $25
  • Self-Advocate: $25

Registration fees include all materials from the symposium as well as breakfast, lunch, and coffee breaks.

When you click "Click Here to Register," you will be redirected to a REDCap registration form. Once you have completed the form and clicked "Submit,"you will then be taken to the billing page, where you can select your registration rate and chose "Pay Now" or "Pay Later." For those who elect "Pay Later," registration fees must be paid by Friday, Nov. 9. There will be no onsite registration or payment.

Hotel Reservation Room Block

A room block has been reserved for HTF Fall Conference attendees from out of town at the Hilton Garden Inn Nashville Vanderbilt (1715 Broadway, Nashville), where the conference will be held, for $169/night plus state and city tax. Click this link to reserve a room under the HTF Fall Conference room block. Rooms will be available until the Oct. 25 reservation deadline or when the room block is at capacity, whichever comes first. For questions regarding the room block at the Hilton Garden Inn Nashville Vanderbilt, please call the hotel at 615-369-5900.

If your plans change, please notify Elizabeth Turner as soon as possible at elizabeth.turner@vumc.org. If you must cancel your registration for this conference, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center will refund your registration fee in full if requests are received in writing by 11:59 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018. No refunds will be made after that date. In the event of cancellation or rescheduling of this conference due to unforeseen circumstances, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center will refund registration fees in full. Since you are responsible for making your own travel arrangements, the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center is not responsible for non-transferable, non-refundable airline tickets or hotel accommodations purchased in connection with attendance at this conference.


The VKC welcomes persons with disabilities.

Contact kc@vumc.org or 615-322-8240 for disability access information; 2 weeks advance notice is recommended for some accommodations (e.g., Braille, signing).