NCLD Proposes Policy Solutions to Address Potential Misuse of AI 

People with disabilities have long benefited from technological advances. For decades, assistive technology, ranging from low-tech to high-tech, has helped students with disabilities learn. Now, Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools hold promise for making lessons more accessible. A recent survey conducted by EdWeek of principals and district leaders showed that most schools are considering using AI, actively exploring its use, or piloting it.

At the same time, AI-based student online activity monitoring software is being employed more universally to monitor and surveil what students are doing online. In K-12 schools, AI-based student activity monitoring software is widespread – nearly 9 in 10 teachers say their school monitors students’ online activities. 

To help address the serious policy questions posed by AI, the Federation of American Scientists hosted an AI Legislation Policy Sprint to crowdsource, develop, and publish a set of creative AI-focused ideas that could be taken up by Congress. Our team was one of only 15 proposals selected to develop policy memos from experts in artificial intelligence across critical sectors such as healthcare, education, and research and development, addressing themes such as privacy, AI safety, workforce development, and responsible innovation. NCLD’s policy proposal focused on ensuring that students with disabilities are protected from harmful misuse of AI tools. The memo highlights a plan of action that includes: 

  1. Improving data collection; 
  2. Enhancing parental notification and ensuring a free and appropriate public education (FAPE); 
  3. Investing in USED’s Office for Civil Rights; 
  4. Supporting state and local education agencies with technical assistance. 

AI technologies will have an enormous impact on public education. Yet, if we do not implement these technologies with students with disabilities in mind, we are at risk of furthering the marginalization of students with disabilities. Both Congress and the U.S. Department of Education can play an important role in taking the necessary steps in developing policy and guidance, as well as providing the resources to combat the harms posed by these technologies. NCLD looks forward to working with decision-makers to take action to protect students with disabilities’ civil rights and ensure responsible use of AI technologies in schools.

Read the full policy memo