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National Town Hall on Adults with Autism Coming Up

I received an email Friday from Dianna Dauber at AmericaSpeaks about their upcoming Advancing Futures of Adults with Autism (AFAA) National Town Hall on November 13th. Dianna told me they’re still recruiting participants for the Chicago site (the Hub) and for the online virtual town meeting site. I don’t believe they’re in need of facilitators at this point.

If you want to experience some innovative online dialogue and you are concerned about autism-related issues, you may want to register as a participant in the “Virtual Town Hall.” In the Virtual Town Hall, participants will be at virtual tables with a facilitator and nine other remote participants, connected to live video webcast of the event from Chicago and a chat room for participants. Virtual Table participants will dial into a toll-free conference call line set up for their table group discussion. A facilitator will lead each table and send their table’s responses directly to the Theme Team.

Phase One of AFAA was a two-day Think Tank that took place in January 2009, where experts in a variety of fields identified key issues and possible solutions to the challenges that adults with autism face. Phase Two is the National Town Hall meeting on the 13th, where Americans will come together across over a dozen cities throughout the nation to create a policy agenda for addressing the needs of adults with autism, and to provide specific steps to provide more opportunities on a local level. Phase Three will be an Autism Congress in Washington, D.C. in 2010, with the goal of advancing the policy priorities that come out of the AFAA National Town Hall meeting with national-level policy makers.

Here are some more details on the November 13th event…

On November 13th 2009, Americans will come together across the country to take part in a National Town Meeting to create a policy agenda for addressing the needs of adults with autism. Over 1,200 people, including care givers, advocates, family members, and autistic adults, will join the discussion to make recommendations on this important issue. The event will be orchestrated from a central hub in Chicago where nearly 400 people will deliberate. Hundreds of others will join the national discussion from 15 satellite sites and online at Virtual Tables.

The Virtual Tables at the AFAA National Town Hall Meeting will allow individuals to participate from their home or office in much the same way that participants at the satellite sites or in Chicago will participate.  Each participant will be assigned to a Virtual Table connecting them with to up to 9 other remote participants and a facilitator.  This table group will be assigned a unique url that will take them to a web page consisting of the live video webcast of the event from Chicago and a chat room for the participants to “chat” with each other when appropriate.  This screen will also have a virtual keypad that will allow participants to vote along with all other attendees at the meeting.

During National Town Hall table discussion periods, Virtual Table participants will dial into a toll free conference call line set-up for their table group discussion.  A facilitator will lead the small group through the discussions and record their responses in a separate window, sending the group’s input directly to the Theme Team for distillation and analysis along with the data coming in from other virtual tables, the satellite sites and tables in Chicago.

Virtual Table participants will be able to view the Themes from the table discussion periods via the webcast.  As mentioned before, they will also be able to vote and prioritize issues along with all other participants in the National Town Hall, with their votes integrated in real-time with votes from across the nation.  If at any time participants need help, they can chat with their table facilitator or call the technical support phone support line.

Register at www.afaa-us.org/virtual if you’re interested in participating. There is a $100 registration fee, but full scholarships are available for registration at the Chicago or Virtual Town halls..

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Sandy Heierbacher
Sandy Heierbacher co-founded the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) with Andy Fluke in 2002, with the 60 volunteers and 50 organizations who worked together to plan NCDD’s first national conference. She served as NCDD's Executive Director between 2002 and 2018. Click here for a list of articles and resources authored by Sandy.

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  1. Hi, I really think your information about Autism was informative. Keep up the great work! Contact me Anytime: Kim Yamamoto, Arizona Advocates 623-252-1669

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