AI and people with learning disabilities

Artificial Intelligence is changing the world and bringing a range of opportunities also for people with various disabilities.

New tools are using AI to assist students with autism and dyslexia or to facilitate access to learning materials for those who are blind or deaf. The purpose of such tools is to improve the learning experience of people with learning disabilities, to find better ways to detect, teach and assist those with learning disabilities.

A study conducted by British government agency NHS Digital based on patient’s data from 2018-2019, had found out that on average, the life expectancy of women with a learning disability is 17 years shorter than for women in the general population and life expectancy of men with a learning disability is 14 years shorter than for men in the general population.

It is common that people with learning disabilities do not receive the appropriate care, as their physical ill-health symptoms are mistakenly attributed to their mental/behavioural problem or as being inherent to their disability. 

The purpose of the new study led by Loughborough University and the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust is to improve the health and well-being of people with learning disabilities, by creating a new, accessible model of care for all users. This will enable better management of MLTCs by health and social care providers or even prevent them from developing.

While Artificial Intelligence is being used to improve and facilitate everyday life of people with learning disabilities, it could also be used by teachers who play a critical role in recognising the signs of learning difficulties within pupils.

In a study, carried out by a research team led by academics at the University of Cambridge and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München (LMU Munich), teachers were asked to assess six fictionalised ‘simulated’ pupils with potential learning difficulties such as dyslexia or ADHD based on their schoolwork, behaviour records and transcriptions of conversations with parents.

Half of the teachers compared their results with a prototype report written by a qualified professional, and the other half with AI-generated feedback which highlighted the correct parts of their solution and flagged aspects they might have improved. It turned out that when repeating the test one more time, without any feedback, those who received AI-generated feedback at first had 10% better results. This study found out that AI could be an effective substitute, where personal feedback is not readily available. 

To conclude, AI could be an excellent tools to assist experts in identifying people with learning disabilities, as they are often overlooked in the system because of lack of professionals. It can also be a tool to assist those people and their caregivers and improve their lives.

Author: Vesna Trenchovska


Using Artificial Intelligence to improve the health and well-being of people with learning disabilities,

How Robots Can Assist Students With Disabilities,

Artificial intelligence could help teachers identify potential learning difficulties,

Health and Care of People with Learning Disabilities, Experimental Statistics: 2018 to 2019 [PAS],