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Best Practices for Centering Accessibility in Survey Creation

Creating surveys that are accessible can be tough. In this blog post, we’ve included a list of some best practices on how to center accessibility when creating surveys. Make sure you check out what "centering accessibility" means and why you should center accessibility in our previous blog!

Best Practices for an Accessible Survey Design

  • Language Use: Avoid using language that is hard to understand or interpret (i.e. jargon). Present questions clearly and unambiguously. Prioritize a clear structure and add information that might help explain the survey.

  • Organization: Bulleted lists can be helpful in breaking up the content. Add sections and include detailed instructions for each section (if needed) to help orient participants to what is expected of them as they move through the survey.

  • Colors: If you want to include colors and/or charts in your survey, choose colors that are colorblind friendly. The most common type of colorblindness is red-green blindness, so you won’t want to use those two colors in a graphic in which the viewer needs to differentiate between them. The safest color choice is blue. If you need to use multiple colors, you can include a mix of blue with orange or red. Here are a few more resources for you to consider the accessibility of colors and fonts when building a survey.

  • Descriptions: Ensure you use enough description for questions and what the answer options mean. If the survey platform has the option to add “Screen Reader Summaries” you should create those. You may be tempted to bold or use italics; if you do, only emphasize single words rather than full sentences.

  • Use people-first language: Be mindful of the language that you use when writing surveys. People-First Language is a practice that helps ensure language & sentence structure emphasizes the person and not their diagnosis or demographic. For example, “a person who has a disability” rather than “a disabled person.”

Best Practice for an Accessible Survey Experience

  • Use classic survey formats: Using a survey format that shows all questions on a page at once rather than “one question at a time” is better for people with a screen reader. “Low Vision Mode” is also an option for many survey platforms, providing a survey format that is accessible for people with visual impairments.

  • Question Types: Questions should not be too complex to account for intellectual differences. Create question types that are accessible with a screen reader. See this blog by Qualitrics for more information regarding the various levels of access these questions provide.

  • Alt Text: Add alt text (alternative text) to images and videos to ensure screen reader access. This can be done through a caption below the image or via the survey platform’s software setting option.

  • Videos: Videos are often hard for respondents with a visual disability. If you need a video on your survey, add closed captions and ensure you add descriptive text of video contents.

  • Validation: Screen readers often struggle deciphering live questions (i.e., questions visible to every participant by default) from hidden questions (i.e., questions that are shown to the participant depending on their answer to previous questions. This is also commonly known as Question Display Logic). Ensure you use validation intentionally to consider screen reader access.

Best Practice: Accessibility Test

Many platforms have the option to test your survey’s accessibility before distribution. This will help indicate which questions are inaccessible and give recommendations for improvement.

For more resources on accessibility, visit the links below:

Sources for this blog:


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