• Predicting reading difficulty for readers with autism spectrum disorder

      Evans, Richard; Yaneva, Victoria; Temnikova, Irina (European Language Resources Association, 2016-05-23)
      People with autism experience various reading comprehension difficulties, which is one explanation for the early school dropout, reduced academic achievement and lower levels of employment in this population. To overcome this issue, content developers who want to make their textbooks, websites or social media accessible to people with autism (and thus for every other user) but who are not necessarily experts in autism, can benefit from tools which are easy to use, which can assess the accessibility of their content, and which are sensitive to the difficulties that autistic people might have when processing texts/websites. In this paper we present a preliminary machine learning readability model for English developed specifically for the needs of adults with autism. We evaluate the model on the ASD corpus, which has been developed specifically for this task and is, so far, the only corpus for which readability for people with autism has been evaluated. The results show that out model outperforms the baseline, which is the widely-used Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level formula.