May 10, 2021

Dub-C Autism Program Student-Alumna Team

Building Website to Help Jobseekers who are Neurodiverse

Eagles Autism Foundation Community Grant Supports the Project

DCap LogoWebsites are essential to job seekers and a direct link to potential employers can make all the difference. Melanie Schwartz, a student in West Chester University’s Dub-C Autism Program (D-CAP), and Julia Gallagher, a WCU D-CAP alumna, are determined to make the connection easier for neurodiverse adults like themselves who are “wired” to think and learn differently, specifically in the areas of socializing, communicating, and sensing. The two have teamed-up to design and develop a website that will help foster a robust network of future employers for the members of the Philadelphia chapter of the Neurodiversity At Work Group. The Group builds connections between jobseekers and those who share the vision of seeing neurodiverse adults gain meaningful employment. The Neurodiversity At Work Group website-in-progress is funded by the Eagles Autism Foundation Community Grant and supported by West Chester University (

Since January, Schwartz, who studies web development and music production, and Gallagher, who graduated as a computer science major and now works as an interconnection specialist at The Precisionists, have been working diligently to build the website. Schwartz is the front-end developer and Gallagher is the back-end developer. The team is creating the website using WordPress and developing forms for logo submission, joining the network, and maintaining a calendar of events for conferences, job fairs, webinars, and more.

“Mel and Julia are a perfect fit for this important professional work,” says Director of WCU’s Dub-C Autism Program Cherie Fishbaugh. “Their work will enable approximately 400 people on the Neurodiversity At Work Group mailing list to connect and provide meaningful employment for those who are neurodiverse. I am very proud of them.”

The website has great potential to foster important employment connections and Gallagher is excited to be at the center of the impact. "I really want to help other autistic people find a job and have the resources to do so,” she said. “I feel accomplished to be working on this website."

With Schwartz working on the aspects of the website that the user sees and interacts with readily (i.e., fonts, colors, dropdown menus, sliders, etc.) and Gallagher building and maintaining the technology that powers the components of the user-facing side, the two have formed a formidable team. Just in case they need some expert guidance, WCU Senior Web Specialist Dan Swift volunteers his time every other Tuesday evening to assist in whatever way is needed.

“Working with Mel and Julia on this project is a great experience for everyone,” says Swift. “These capable developers are able to successfully take ideas from concept to product, while tackling advanced design challenges including mobile and accessibility considerations.  Their dedication and work are very impressive.”

The project holds special meaning for Schwartz. “To me, having the opportunity to work on this website isn’t just about developing my own skills and gaining valuable work experience for myself,” she says. “Having this job means that I can help other people like me find fulfilling careers of their own, as well as give them the confidence in knowing that they are valued, supported, and capable.”


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