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Centering Accessibility in Survey Creation

If you are planning on sharing your survey with a variety of respondents, you will want to consider creating “accessible” surveys. This is a quick overview of what it means to center accessibility in your survey creation.

Why Center Accessibility?

Accessibility is the practice of making information, activities, and environments useable and sensible for as many people as possible. By “centering accessibility” this means having a specific concern to ensure accessibility or to keep accessibility in mind when conducting your activities. Centering accessibility in survey creation ensures that all potential participants, including people with disabilities, have equal access and opportunity to share their opinion and insight. All participants will appreciate a survey that is easy to understand and easy to navigate.

The People-First Approach

Adapting the principals of “people-first” creates a mindful practice of caring for people, first and foremost. This approach is central to accessibility frameworks as it values the physical, emotional, and psychological needs of individuals for them to thrive in their environments and relationships. In survey development, or any data collection process, centering people is critical to the following:

  • Accessibility for participants

  • Relationship building

  • High-quality data

When collecting information from anyone, it is important to ensure that they can easily provide the information. This practice in survey language avoids words or phrases could cause someone to feel dehumanized or that their disability and/or demographic defines their identity.

This practice also considers the different facets of data collection that might cause emotional or mental burden on the respondent. If a survey is too mentally draining or emotionally activating, it is inaccessible.


There are many guidelines that have set up to protect those with a disability and to give resources for creating an accessible environment or product. Here are two guidelines that we recommend following:

508 Compliance: What is this?

Section 508 is an amendment to the Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973 that requires federal agencies to ensure that a person with a disability can use their software, websites, data collection tools, etc. Not all entities need to follow this rule, as it is specific to federal agencies. Nonetheless, it is an important practice to follow for promoting equity.

WCAG2: What is this?!

WCAG2 is a set of technical guidelines that make web content more accessible. This includes online evaluation tools (i.e., surveys). WCAG2 guidelines can be used as a practice your team can use to implement accessibility more frequently in your work while also collecting information in a way that gives equal opportunity to all people.


Finally, it would be recommend to work in teams on this issue. Here is a resource that helps guide Accessibility for Teams. This contains helpful information on making resources accessible and inclusive.

What else should we know about centering accessibility for teams? Drop your comments below!


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