Could on-screen narration be discriminatory?

Cathy Moore has an interesting blog post entitled “Should we narrate on-screen text?, where she suggests that automatic narration of on-screen text can actually be detrimental to learners. She states that learners generally read more quickly than the narration is read – screen reader users can “read” text very quickly -and that learners are then forced to move at the pace of the narration.

Although some learners may find on-screen narration useful such as young children, learners who are learning the language of the learning resource, and learners with low literacy skills or cognitive difficulties, on-screen narration should not be included just to try and fulfil obligations towards students with disabilities. Automatically including on-screen narration just to fulfil SENDA (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Act) obligations, could actually discriminate against students who do not need on-screen narration.

Therefore, the provision of on-screen narration should be considered very carefully and, if it is considered necessary, offered as an alternative or option, but the original resource (or an alternative) should still be accessible to screen reader and other technology users.