Are peer review tools accessible?
Peer review tools are software tools that are designed to simulate work sharing in a classroom environment by allowing participants to review the work of others and offer feedback. These tools are available as independent software applications and are included in some distance learning courseware packages.
Typically, with a review tool, participants can upload their work into a shared work area where other students can access it and provide feedback to the author(s). Often, the interface shows both the posted work and the comments of the other participants on one screen. The comments of other participants may be identified by the reviewer's name and/or by font color. In order for users of assistive technology to participate in these activities, both the interface and the controls must be accessible.
Common access issues occur when peer review tools are not accessible to individuals using screen readers and when color is used as the only means of identifying the author of specific comments. It is possible to work around these limitations by using alternate approaches to peer review. In some situations, an instructor can direct students to use email as the vehicle for sharing work and providing feedback. In other contexts, students can provide comments in the body of a text document, using an agreed-upon notation.
For more information on distance learning courseware packages, see the AccessIT Knowledge Base article How do courseware products differ on accessibility?