Writing in academic-led media publication The Conversation, Professor Bronwyn Hemsley, Associate Professor Emma Power and assistant researcher Fiona Given said because the chatbot is designed to “provide human-like responses” to user input, it could be of significant use to those living with communication difficulties.

If used correctly, such technology could allow the 1.2 million Australians living with speech, language and social communication impairments to improve their written interactions. This could include expanding on short sentences, drafting or refining texts for emails, instructions, or assignments, suggesting scripts to practice or rehearse, and even writing a complaint letter, including nuance and the outcomes of not taking action.

 Artificial inteligence and diversity

Assuming it would soon be made accessible to everyone, such artificial intelligence tools have the potential to be more inclusive of diversity by being able to understand poorly written commands or sentences with several grammar or spelling errors, the trio noted.

The experts wrote that ChatGPT can reportedly ‘read’ poorly structured input, re-write and improve imperfect writing, and streamline complex texts into simpler summaries for early-stage readers.


It could also enhance the user’s rate of communication, they said.


“Because people using speech-generating devices are often limited to laboriously entering 10 words per minute with word prediction only increasing that to 12-18 words per minute, AI like ChatGPT could help pull information together in a neat text, and turn written text into a summary for readers with low literacy.”

 The author

The report’s co-author, Fiona Given – who is a qualified lawyer and lives with cerebral palsy and no speech – said she relies on assistive communication technologies, including augmentative and alternative communication speech-generating devices.


However, each word and message that she composes takes her substantially more time and effort than a person who speaks, forcing her to compromise when completing such tasks.


“My written messages using current assistive technologies are often short and to the point. This can cause many problems, as I may be perceived as curt, if not rude and I’m also not fully explaining what I mean.”

More and more

Having tried out ChatGPT for itself, Given said that it could save her time and effort while maintaining her professionalism.


While questions have been raised about the technology’s accuracy, bias and lack of true human insight, Given said these were easily mitigated by a review of the text produced by the chatbot.


“One day, AI like ChatGPT may be installed into my speech-generating device. Yes, it raises questions of authorship and brings doubt over who did the writing. That’s the case also with word prediction software – who thought of the word first? I see it as a type of co-authorship, and people like me will still need to be able to read and check the text reflects what they want to say and edit and authorise the output accordingly.”


The authors conceded they didn’t know how many of the one million users testing the ChatGPT system now have problems with literacy, written expression, or spelling.

But noted that “so far it looks like a game changer to help people produce texts with little or less effort”. 


“With a screen reader, the ChatGPT output could become the user’s ‘voice’. So being able to check, edit, and confirm or reject AI writing is vital. Any incremental improvements to chatbots, that take into account what helps and hinders access and inclusion, are important if people with communication disability are going to benefit from advancements in AI.”


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