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Could ChatGPT change your life?

Thursday 25 January 2024

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the ability of a computer to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.

Advances in AI over recent decades have been exponential and there are products available now that can be life changing for users. In this article we take a look at two examples where AI can support individuals with dyslexia or other specific learning difficulties.

Speech recognition

Many of you will already be aware of, or use, speech recognition technology. This technology uses AI to analyse your voice and language, identify the words you are saying, and then output those words with transcription accuracy as text data on a screen.

Speech recognition is now built into most personal electronic devices like smartphones and tablets. You can find a microphone symbol on most search engine boxes as well as on the keyboard of your device: when activated, it will start listening to you and automatically create text from your speech. If you are using Microsoft products, there is a ‘Dictate’ function, and Apple has ‘Dictation’.

It is also available in ‘smart home’ technology, for example Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant or Microsoft’s Cortana. They can be used to set reminders and alarms if you need help with planning and organisation. However, they also – and this is the game changer - answer your questions. They work together with other AI technologies that can summarise and
represent information to you.


Chatbots are computer programmes designed to have a conversation with a human being, especially over the internet. Their key task is to provide responses to queries.

AI Chatbots use technologies like machine learning, natural language processing and sentiment analysis to analyse a vast amount of data and provide unique answers. They can read, comprehend language, manage dialogue, make decisions and learn from past conversations. This can make them incredibly useful tools. This year there has been a great deal of press about ChatGPT and its competitors like Google Bard or Bing Chat.

Photograph of Chat GPT screen on a mobile

These are powerful examples of chatbots which can be particularly effective for tasks such as:

  • Providing information: chatbots can find you answers to your questions. This can be a great tool to get you started with a piece of writing. However, beware! Their responses can’t always be trusted and they have been accused of ‘making things up’. They base answers on patterns of language found in data, rather than citing specific information sources directly. They are good at explaining the basics of a topic or brainstorming ideas. Always fact check information they provide against other credible sources.
  • Summarising or simplifying information. If you find reading or writing challenging, software like ChatGPT can summarise a long piece of text into bullet points or a few sentences. You can provide the text you want it to summarise, or let the chatbot source the information itself.
  • Expanding content. If you have a simple draft of what you want to say, chatbots can extend this into longer sentences, or rewrite it in a particular style
  • Proof-reading content. You can ask a chatbot to identify and correct spelling or grammar errors.
  • Learning key facts. You can ask ‘What are the most important facts about this topic. Help me create a memorisation technique to remember them’.

It is important to be aware that each chatbot creates information based on the data it has access to and the algorithms it has been programmed with. You can find online user reviews of the strengths and weakness of each chatbot.

"I mentor a young lad with poor literacy skills who is starting a landscaping business. He struggles to communicate with clients in a professional manner. I created a GPT3-powered Gmail account to which he sends a message. It responds with the text to send to the client."

Original Text:
Sally I am starts work at yours Monday from dave

Business version:
Dear Sally,
I hope this email finds you well. I am writing to let you know that I will be starting work with you on Monday. I am really looking forward to getting started.
If you have any questions or need any help with anything, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Best wishes, Dave

"The entire process took less than 15 minutes to create. No coding required.” - @Danny Richman, Twitter, March 2023

Photograph of ChatGPT screen

Give it a go
At the British Dyslexia Association we recognise the potential for AI:

  • To remove barriers to access to education and employment, enabling greater participation in society.
  • To provide cost effective support to individuals, reducing the need for human assistance and increasing the likelihood an individual can learn and work.
  • To be tailored to an individual’s needs: you can use it in the way that best suits your unique strengths and challenges.

Risks of AI

But, as with most technology, be aware of the risks. There are privacy concerns about systems which collect and use sensitive personal information. More widely, there are concerns about the risk of in-built prejudice. AI tools can carry human biases and can be exclusionary towards people with differences or can amplify discriminatory views.
For example, recruitment tools may use algorithms to filter out candidates based on ‘ableist’ assumptions which don’t take account of an individual’s strengths or any reasonable adjustments that might help them perform a role successfully.

For more information about Assistive Technology visit: British Assistive Technology Association.