Advice and Guidance

Generative AI as, or in, Assistive Technology

Over the last few months, we’ve had many conversations around generative AI for accessibility. These have been hugely positive and have highlighted many of the opportunities AI presents to make education a more accessible experience, which we’ve also explored in a previous blog. 

We’ve also become aware though that there are some emerging, and perhaps unexpected, challenges around the increasing use of generative AI both as an assistive technology itself and within existing assistive tools.  

  • Multi-purpose Generative AI tools are being used to support communication, reading, writing and understanding of content. These tools are also often integrated into existing platforms including web browsers and word processing programs.  

e.g., Microsoft Copilot, ChatGPT, and Google Gemini

  • Existing popular assistive tools are incorporating generative AI features to enhance their capabilities.   

e.g., Grammarly’s writing support features and Seeing AI’s built in chatbot.

There is tension therefore with managing access to AI tools, which can be essential to mitigating risks around data security, misuse and more, while also ensuring that users have access to tools they need.  

Some examples of the key questions emerging: 

  • How do we identify which AI tools are being used for assistive purposes by students?  
  • How can we write AI policy which accounts for the use of generative AI as, or in, assistive technology? 
  • What can we do when an existing tool adds additional generative AI capabilities which are restricted by already agreed AI policies?  

We are looking to understand these issues more clearly and we’d like to hear more on different institution’s experience and approaches when considering generative AI in, or as, assistive technology.  

Join us on July 3rd for a special joint community workshop between the AI in education, Assistive technology, and Accessibility Jisc communities where we will explore these emerging questions and what we need to answer them:

Accessibility drop-in clinic 3rd July 12.30-1.30

For those who can’t attend we welcome you to share your perspectives with us by email to or via comment on this blog. All thoughts and experiences are welcome.  

Find out more by visiting our Artificial Intelligence page to view publications and resources, join us for events and discover what AI has to offer through our range of interactive online demos.

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