iSpectrum aimed to improve the work based social interaction skills of people with Autism, Aspergers and other related special needs through a virtual work environment to increase their chances of gaining employment. iSpectrum used innovations to give people with ASD a smoother integration into professional life. Users were able to play, learn, understand and act out different social roles as an employee in a variety of work environments. ASD practitioners learnt how they can incorporate virtual worlds into their training; and Employers benefited from a more diverse workforce.
iSpectrum is funded through the European Commission's Leonardo Lifelong Learning Programme. Five partners from the UK, Germany, Italy and Bulgaria, with assistance from practitioner, business and user advisory groups, created a serious games virtual work environment specifically for people with ASD. This was designed to promote the understanding of body language and facial expressions, social relations, conversation skills and dealing with abstract concepts.
Some people with ASD have difficulties with communication, social integration and social imagination. As a result they might find it difficult to undertake vocational training, find out about job opportunities and also retain a job. The project intended to improve the attractiveness and delivery of Vocational Educational Training for people with ASD, in the fields of retail, office (IT) and manufacturing, which are common vocational areas for employed people with ASD. iSpectrum also sought to provide intelligence, skills and knowledge on the benefits of serious games work environments for ASD practitioners through integrated research, testing and trials, live training and a 3D e-learning course, but also to increase knowledge and expertise in this area across Europe.