Exhibiting neurodiversity in the Metaverse – The New Indian Express

Express Press Service

Chennai: Autism Awareness Month is often full of surprises. From sporting events to artistic appearances, we find surprises in the many expressions of people with autism. Surprises because neurotypical world tends to focus on what the neurodiversity genus can’t do, and thus, find the unexpected in their accomplishments. Hash Hack Code, like many allies, prefers to show the world what autistic people can do and the many things that come naturally to them. The result is a virtual exhibition in the metaverse displaying her students’ work in coding, art, music, and other talents.

art symbols
Created to showcase the different strengths of our autistic students, the Metaverse exhibit begins Manu Sekar, CEO and founder of Hash Hack Code. “Most of the time our autistic students who have learned to code create these artworks using coding. Some of those who are good at drawing and painting have shown these works. There is also the playing of music. The reason we chose the metaverse is that one of the best ways to showcase (variety) talent is to Through technology. And it’s not the first time we’ve done such a show. Last year, three of our students created an accessible COVID-19 data website. So they show their skills through technology, and prove they can,” he explains.

This idea governs the larger goal of Hash Hack Code, a social enterprise that works with neurologically diverse people—whether individuals with autism, Down syndrome, ADHD, or anyone with different learning abilities—in vocational training, particularly in the field of technology. “Many of them have good primary and secondary education. As for higher education, it is not available to most of them. So they don’t have any opportunities or jobs they can go to. In the age of technology, more than your degree or certificate, it is your skills that matter to you. We want to train people Diversified neurosciences on coding and their evaluation of it,” he explains. Manu tells the story of their first student as a vivid example of this theory. Prem Shankar, 26, who started basic programming, learned web design and now creates wedding websites and even accessible websites (like the ones from Project Covid).

achievement pledge
This virtual exhibition is only part of this achievement. Besides simply showing students artwork, some projects for autism will be converted into NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Rudra Rao, 16, will be the first autistic person to bring his art into the coding realm. His project – a bird with “infinite” wings – will be auctioned on Thursday; That other students will soon follow. “This is one of the first attempts in India with autistic people with coding, and converting it to NFTs. Whatever money we get from NFTs, we give it as a scholarship to people with diverse neurotics and buy them computers,” he shares.

As much as this effort says a lot about the Hash Hack Code and its purpose, the works featured are accompanied by stories about their creators, as Manu promises. The student chose the infinity symbol for his project because the autistic community is moving further and further away from the puzzle symbol – the symbol that indicates something is missing – towards this alternative – to emphasize that there are endless possibilities with autism.

Another student decided to conduct a community survey to determine their proficiency in eight different skills and to present the results as a spectrum visualization, he put his data visualization skills to good use. “Most of the time, we think of autism as a linear progression — someone has severe autism or has moderate autism. But it’s more of a spectrum. Someone may have a very high interest range but poor social skills. He wanted to highlight this phenomenon, Manu shares.

Since opening into the metaverse, the gallery has seen a steady flow of visitors. But Hash Hack Code does not stop at this offer. He wants to be able to pass this learning on to as many individuals with neurodiversity as possible. To this end, they prepare a curriculum that schools can adopt for their students. Manu says this core course will certainly have an even greater impact when it is offered in September.

It’s all part of the global effort to go beyond just raising awareness this month. “Everyone knows what autism is today. Acceptance is what it takes. So we call it Autism Acceptance Month. We want to show autism in a more positive way,” Manu says, hoping more people will follow.
The Metaverse Gallery can be accessed on a laptop or VR headset using this link https://bit.ly/HHCAT2022

Plenty of success stories
Prem now works on Shopify and accessible web projects. Saravanan, who also learned how to work on accessible web projects, has moved on to developing Flutter applications. Pranav now works for a company and designs their websites. It all works in just two years of training and building programming skills, Manu shares.

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