Artificial Intelligence (AI) can help create accessibility and empower students with specific needs. Renee Dawson tells us how.

As education increasingly relies on technology, availability to devices for all students is essential. This is especially important for students who may face unique challenges related to accessibility.

By successfully employing AI, educational institutions can offer a more inclusive and equitable learning environment.

AI can be an incredibly useful support for students with a range of disabilities and educational needs, including those with a visual or hearing impairment. It allows us to empower students who require assistive technology to access educational materials.

Supporting specific needs

Let’s take a look at some examples of how AI can be used to support student needs in the classroom (and beyond!). For students with speech and language impairments, AI can help them communicate more effectively. It can convert spoken word into text in real time, which makes notetaking and participating in class discussions more feasible. The speech-to-text abilities can help students with written expression needs complete writing tasks in the classroom. Furthermore, AI voice assistants can help them control any environment with simple programming.

AI allows students with visual impairments to access all environments with ease. It has the power to convert printed text into a digital format allowing for the use of screen readers and other assistive technology to access text-based content. It can also easily describe images or videos and can even describe items in their surrounding environment to help them navigate the space independently. In addition, it  provides Natural Language Processing (NLP), which is critical for many students with a variety of disabilities. NLP can break down complex texts into simpler terms so that students can comprehend difficult written material, and can provide the pronunciation and definition of unfamiliar words. More natural sounding text-to-speech options are available for students with reading difficulties as well.

For students who struggle with social skills, AI can provide a role play partner for practice. Various conversation and social prompts can be developed by AI for students to practice socializing. It can also offer assistance with answering questions appropriately in social situations.

How else can AI help?

Through AI, teachers are able to quickly and effectively personalize student learning. AI algorithms can analyze students’ performance data to identify areas requiring additional support. It can customize learning materials and assessments to suit a student’s individual needs. Students can receive individualized feedback, which helps them understand their mistakes so that they can learn from them.

Finally, AI can adapt to each student’s learning preferences and pace, providing a more effective and engaging learning experience. For students in life skills and adult transition programs, it can help them become more independent and master various life skills more easily than before. AI voice assistants can answer common life skills questions (i.e., How do I cook rice?), provide reminders, schedule updates, and calendar notifications. They can assist with navigating outside their home or job and accessing bus schedules.

For students learning job skills, AI can help simplify and assess workflows to ensure efficiency with the task enabling students to master the repetitive steps faster and with more success.

Revolutionizing accessibility

The use of AI in education has the potential to revolutionize the way we approach accessibility for students with disabilities and educational needs. By providing personalized solutions that cater to each student’s unique needs, AI can help create a more inclusive and equitable learning environment. Furthermore, the AI solutions of today offer a lower cost solution than before with many features and tools readily available on smartphones and tablets through the device’s settings or affordable applications.

When educators and policy makers consider AI-powered solutions for accessibility as a means of creating more inclusive, equitable, and accessible learning systems – everyone wins.

Author

  • Renee Dawson

    Renee is an educational technology support specialist in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. She is passionate about differentiation and personalized learning. She is a self-guided learner and enjoys learning about new technology in her free time. She is a speaker, YouTuber, digital designer and content creator.
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