The remarkable impact of AI on accessibility in education

The remarkable impact of AI on accessibility in education

Explore how AI tools are breaking down accessibility barriers for students with diverse learning needs, enabling them to take control of their educational experiences, as supported by the RMIT Vietnam Wellbeing team, the School of Science, Engineering & Technology (SSET), and Microsoft Vietnam.

Generative AI tools, such as ChatGPT, Copilot, and RMIT’s Val, have been revolutionising how students access and engage with their education materials. These technologies offer dynamic and tailored solutions to a large diversity of needs. For instance, they can enhance communication by providing personalised learning experiences, which consequently also improves student engagement according to each need and preference.  

"By designing technology with accessibility in mind, we create solutions that help everyone work smarter, communicate more effectively, and access information more easily,” said Ms Carol Witney, Equitable Learning and Accessibility Manager at RMIT Vietnam. She also stressed, “Accessibility is not just a feature, it is a necessity that empowers individuals and fosters a more inclusive society. By leveraging the power of AI, we can remove barriers and create opportunities for all.”

AI for Accessibility workshop organisers Ms Carol Whitney (leftmost), Equitable Learning and Accessibility Manager at RMIT Vietnam and Ms Van Anh Huynh (rightmost), Senior Customer Success Account Manager at Microsoft Vietnam, at the AI for Accessibility – Accelerate Inclusion workshop.

Empowering every learner

For students with visual challenges, object recognition and text-to-speech applications enable them to access educational content on their own terms. These tools can transform visual information into formats that are easier for them to take in. Moreover, the latest text-to-speech or screen reader features have become more sophisticated with AI integration, offering more accurate and context-aware readings in more complex formats. In return, students can understand and interact with learning materials independently. 

AI tools can also provide real-time transcription services and closed captioning for students with hearing differences. This allows them to participate in lectures and discussions on an equal footing with peers. These adaptive technologies ensure all students can access and comprehend information without assistance from others. 

Person with low vision using a Braille display at a computer

Learning without limitation

For students with mobility differences, with the help of AI, they now also have a huge supporting tool, being its voice-activated control features. Not only available as voice asistants on mobile devices, this AI feature can help them get access to learning materials without relying on movements. Moreover, AI helps to reduce physical barriers even further by allowing students to engage with digital content, take notes, and edit documents through simple voice commands. As a result, they promote greater independence in their academic activities. 

Students with more invisible learning needs, neurodiversity for example, are also supported greatly with AI technologies. With the help of AI, students can simplify complex information into manageable parts, which will enhance their understanding and retention. Besides that, AI-driven predictive text and sophisticated grammar-aiding tools also help students articulate their thoughts more clearly, ensuring their academic work is both coherent and independently produced. 

A group of people stand at a workshop. Participants at the AI for Accessibility – Accelerate Inclusion workshop in Saigon South campus.

AI and accessibility: towards a future of independent learning 

All in all, AI technologies can enhance communication, personalises learning experiences, and support students in managing their educational progresses without reliance on adjustments from others. Thanks to these advancements, students with diverse learning needs are not just participants in their academic journeys—they're now the leaders in their learning experiences. 

As the digital landscape continues to evolve, the potential for AI to enhance accessibility will advance even further. This will certainly pave the way for a future where every student, regardless of their abilities and circumstances, can succeed on their own. 

Story: Hong Anh Lam 

All AI accessibility features in this article were referenced from the “AI for Accessibility – Accelerate Inclusion” workshops' slides.

09 July 2024


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