VITA: Virtual Interactive Training Agent
Project Leaders: Skip Rizzo and Matthew Trimmer
The Virtual Interactive Training Agent (VITA) is a virtual reality job interview practice system for building competence and reducing anxiety in young adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities. It was developed by the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT), in partnership with the Dan Marino Foundation (DMF).
While it is recognized that many persons with ASD have the necessary capabilities for success in vocational activities, many report that the process of engaging in a job interview is anxiety provoking, as well as socially and verbally challenging; these factors may limit their success in job seeking situations.
Combining DMF expertise on ASD and ICT virtual human technology, VITA provides the opportunity for ASD users to repetitively practice job interviewing in a safe simulated VR environment. There are a total of six characters, three male and three female, each with three behavioral dispositions: soft-touch, neutral and hostile. Various scenarios have been created that simulate real life job interview situations. Video recording of the user’s interaction allows a vocational expert and the user to visually review and analyze the user’s performance.
Although VITA is still in testing phases at the Dan Marino Campus in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, it is expected that exposure to the interview process through VITA will support users’ efforts to overcome the anxiety that they report during this process and provide a platform where job interviewing skills can be practiced with the support of a vocational expert. The result of the practice and habitation through using VITA will be improved job interview skills for individuals with developmental disabilities.