Accessible Surveys

Blocksurvey blog author
Jun 28, 2022 · 4 mins read
Accessible Surveys

According to World Health Organization around 1 billion people worldwide are living with some form of disability. It is indeed hard to digest that majority of our population is actually suffering in one or another way. With this disability or impairment, do they have enough solutions to participate in the digital world? Do they have inclusivity? What if internet and the web we create is not inclusive? What if the surveys are not inclusive? What are we missing out?

Think about you are not listening or hearing from ~15% of the world population. What wealth of information are we going to lack from this demography? Could their information lead to better products and services? Betterment in anything we produce. Most certainly yes.

This is where accessibility plays a critical role. We have to create accessible surveys to listen to them. So that we don’t miss out on the insights they produce. Creating accessible surveys will help us in receiving their thoughts, opinions, ideas, and feedback like everyone being inclusive.

Are today’s surveys accessible? Read more to know what are the problems prevailing in this space and how BlockSurvey creates accessible surveys to help you get better insights and data without ignoring the audience with disability or impairment.

What is survey accessibility?

Web accessibility is the ease with which people with disability can access any digital or web infrastructure. Have you seen ramps built near stairs for the use of people with movement disabilities? This is an example of real-world accessibility. Similarly, when disabled people find it easier to access forms and surveys on the web, it is considered Survey accessibility.

There are different disabilities pertaining to physical and cognitive. For this topic context, I have considered visually challenged, the center of discussion.

Why accessibility is critical for surveys?

Consider yourself visually impaired and finding it very difficult to submit an online survey. It is the same pain that all the visually impaired experience around the world, talking of that 1 billion world population that I discussed earlier.

Surveys tend to give insights only when more people complete the survey. By ensuring accessibility in surveys, we make sure that visually impaired people need not miss out on the survey.

As the collecting sample goes high we get better survey results. It is for this reason accessibility becomes critical while conducting online surveys. What are the steps you should consider to build an accessible survey? Are there any key factors we should focus on while designing a survey with accessibility? Let’s read further to know more.

Key factors for survey accessibility

Now that we truly understand the need for survey accessibility, let us discuss the 3 factors you should always remember while creating an accessible survey.

  • The survey components should be capable of being perceived through the senses.
  • The challenged user should be able to take the survey with ease.
  • The challenged person should also be able to understand the purpose behind the survey.

These are your commandments. Always remember this while you design. If you keep this tenet in your heart, you are all set to make it accessible.

There are two types of survey accessibility for the visually impaired.

  • The first is through voice recognition, where the user will not use a keyboard or mouse when taking the survey. The user interacts with the survey through speech alone.
  • The second is through voice assistance, where the user accesses a keyboard and screen reader to fill out the survey. We will discuss voice assistance in this article.

Now that we know the keystones, are all the survey tools out there really accessible? Why there is still noise? Let’s see with some facts how survey tools fair in this space today.

Are surveys really accessible?

Implementing accessible survey is secondary, given the fact that not many Engineers have heard of accessibility in the first place. Have we considered the comfort of less privileged citizens of our planet? Are we empathetic with disabled persons to build accessible digital solutions?

Let’s see how survey tools have evolved and why accessibility is the last piece they want to solve.

A well-known survey tool Typeform focused on accessibility after 7 years of its existence. It’s sad to know this. Many survey tools follow a similar path. Probably, collectively we don’t see the disabled community as an audience for our product. Mostly this is true for any digital product. Probably, this is the reason compliance and accessibility laws like Section 508, accessibility guidelines like WCAG2 came into existence.

Would you like to hear about a first-hand experience? Read on. Prior to working for BlockSurvey, I worked for Wipro Technologies. The Human Resource manager at Wipro is visually impaired. He is a good friend of mine. Despite his visual impairment, he is very comfortable using his laptop. With the help of a screen reader, he sends emails to his colleagues. He gives ratings and conducts appraisals. Yearly once, Wipro conducts an Employee perception survey(EPS) to receive feedback about the company.

What if this visually impaired HR manager is unable to take this survey? Won’t he will feel apart and not feel included? Won’t he feel neglected and rejected? How would he voice out his perceptions?

It is for people like him that BlockSurvey has considered accessibility very seriously. An accessible survey makes him feel inclusive of the company.

Below are some examples of lack of accessibility in surveys across players in the market. They are the incumbents in this space and widely used. These examples are handpicked from a research study conducted by University of Washington.

  1. Qualtrics: Qualtrics is the only tool that doesn’t at least place an asterisk (*) next to the required fields. Qualtrics users have no idea which fields are required until they’ve submitted the form.

    In Qualtrics, there is no visible difference between checkboxes and radio buttons. See below.

  1. SurveyMonkey: They do not perform client-side-error checking. Client-side error checking is preferred in accessibility since it provides immediate feedback if the user skips a required field or enters an invalid response.
  1. Google forms: The amount of information given to screen readers is in fact excessive, in google forms. The forms become extremely verbose in this case.

Is BlockSurvey accessible?

Definitely not, when we started. That’s the truth. We were like other survey tools as well. Ignorant!

But this changed when we had a face-off with an anonymous user being critical and pointing out how messed up we were. Below is the screenshot for your evidence.

The Redditor meant to say it will not support visually impaired persons and denied using our product. This gave us the inspiration to implement web accessibility to our surveys from that very day. Probably, we listened and we felt it is needed. We see accessibility as a digital right.

We brought in accessibility to all our surveys. Watch the video to see how it works.

As you can see in this example, this is how a visually challenged user happens to fill out a form or survey built in BlockSurvey. The form asks for your name, email id, and website. The impaired user can use the tab and enter keys along with a screen reader to take the survey.

The screen reader can be accessed either from your Operating System or it can be a downloadable extension for your browser. I personally suggest using a screen reader as an extension for your browser, because it works better for the websites and online surveys. You can download and install by searching for screen reader extension on your browsers like Brave, Firefox.

There are a few more factors for making accessibility better. Read further to know more.

Points to consider for improving survey accessibility

Apart from screen reader and accessible components, one can also follow some general tips for better accessibility. Have a look.

  • Make sure that the language you use in the survey conveys respect.
  • Use translations when you want a non-English speaking user to take your survey.
  • Avoid the use of Jargon and keep your vocabulary simple and succinct.
  • Make your surveys compatible with computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones.
  • When survey language is written from right to left, make sure the platform supports it.

Champion survey accessibility

Survey platforms with accessible components save a lot of time for the visually challenged. It also makes them feel included. One can take the brilliant step of creating surveys on the accessible platform to create an inclusive survey. Show little care, and share accessible surveys and that will make all the difference. To create accessible surveys with BlockSurvey, click here.

Accessible Surveys FAQ

Which question types are not accessible in BlockSurvey?
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File upload, camera capture and Ranking question types are not accessible in BlockSurvey.

Can you list some regulations and guidelines for accessibility?
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ADA and Section 508 are the regulations centered around Accessibility. WCAG2 is a technical guideline to implement accessibility.

What is ADA?
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ADA means Americans with Disabilities Act. ADA became law in 1990. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else.

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blog author description

Sarath Shyamson

Sarath Shyamson is the customer facing person in the BlockSurvey ecosystem and also heads the outreach team. He enjoys volunteering for the church choir and loves spending time with his two year old son.

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