Accessibility Surveys: Best Practices

SurveyGizmo has always been one of the most accessible survey tools out there, and we’re continuing to build on that. We’ve recently released a new accessibility survey theme, geared towards making your surveys more accessible to those who are visually impaired, have reduced motor skills, or are navigating your survey using a screen reader. It now comes standard in your SurveyGizmo account’s survey theme library – you can apply it to any of your existing or new surveys with one click.

But the theme alone can’t make your survey accessible – there are certain best practices you want to follow in order to make sure your survey will reach and appeal to your entire audience. Our survey expert Robb Novak recently led a discussion on this topic, and shared these tips with us:

– Avoid Javascript-based survey questions. There are a lot of issues that make javascript-based question types inaccessible. For starters, they don’t work well with screen reader software – a big no-no if you’re looking to create an accessible survey.

Additionally, they don’t work well with iOS and mobile devices – given the prevalence of mobile, this means that you’ll limit the access of a large portion of your target sample.

The question types you’ll want to avoid are:

  • Star Ranking Questions
  • Image Choice Questions (in some circumstances)
  • Drag and Drop Ranking Questions
  • Custom Table Questions
  • Several Marketplace Survey Questions

You’ll also want to avoid hidden question types, since screen readers have a hard time telling the difference between live questions and those hidden in the background.

– Choose a survey theme with good contrast. Subtle tones may appeal to your aesthetic sense, but to many people with vision impairment, they can make it so that the type or other survey elements are difficult to see. This is why we introduced our new Accessibility survey theme (seen below) – it is designed in high contrast to make it easier to read.

– Add “Alt text” to your images. Alt text is the meta data that describes an image to a screen reader. When choosing an image from the Image Library, you can use the settings to include descriptive alt text so that visually-impaired survey respondents can get the best experience from your survey.

– Pay attention to font sizes. Again, the typeface that looks best to you may be difficult to read to someone who’s visually-impaired. For that reason, be sure to choose a simple font for your online surveys (Helvetica or other sans serif fonts are often more well-defined and easier to read than Times New Roman and other serif fonts). And even more importantly, be sure that the font size is large enough to be read comfortably.

– Use accessibility tools to check your survey. When you go to publish your survey, SurveyGizmo’s built-in diagnostics will alert you whether you’ve included anything that is incompatible with accessibility standards. This is basic analysis, but will check against most common problems.

For more in-depth accessibility analysis, there are a number of accessibility tools that will evaluate your survey and score its level of accessibility against best practices. Here are a few we recommend:


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