Accessible surveys and forms are designed to assist hearing- or sight-impaired users. These users often use screen readers like JAWS. Screen readers assist impaired users in interpreting content in your survey. There are 2 requirements for a survey to be accessible: 1) Content that may be difficult for impaired users to navigate or that screen readers browsers cannot interpret should be excluded, 2) Necessary messaging should be added to ensure that impaired users will understand how to use the survey/form.
Note: While our software allows you to build accessible surveys, we ourselves are not accessibility experts. We can help as best we can with how to test accessibility within our software, but if you're looking for more information regarding accessibility, we recommend visiting some of the sites listed in our "Related Articles" section.
What is Section 508?
Section 508 is an amendment to the "Workforce Rehabilitation Act of 1973" that requires software, hardware and information technology be accessible to people with disabilities. To learn more about Section 508, please visit: http://www.hhs.gov/web/508/index.html
Is SurveyGizmo Section 508 compliant?
Yes we are -- though your survey design has to take advantage of the tools SurveyGizmo provides to ensure your users have a good experience. This tutorial is a great place to start!
When should I consider this?
If you're planning on distributing your survey to respondents that may have disabilities, you definitely want to design your survey around allowing them to easily access it. If you're planning on sending out to a large group of people and you're not sure if there will be anyone who requires the help of a screen reader or keyboard navigation you may still want to make your survey as accessible as possible, just in case.
Best Practices for 508 Compliance
We would like to reiterate that we at SurveyGizmo are not Accessibility Experts, so any best practices not related to the software are strictly based on information from our customers. If you'd like to learn more about best practices, please check out our "Related Articles" section below.
Question Types To Avoid
- Star Ranking
- Image Choice
- Drag and Drop Rranking
- Custom Tables
- Many Custom Questions
If you decide to use table questions in your survey, please remember to fill out a summary of the question in the Table Summary field. Describe the structure of the table so that users can navigate the table.
Validation and associated warning messages can be problematic for screen readers. Often they are not visible.
If you plan on having validation such as "required" or regex patterns, etc, we recommend making sure you update your warning messages in Text & Translations to indicate to the respondent using the screen reader, what the exact error is. And test thoroughly to ensure that they are visible to the screen reader
SurveyGizmo Accessible Theme
Our accessible theme is designed for screen readers accessibility. Select this theme by going to Preview > Theme > Accessible Theme.
When designing your survey, keep your audience in mind. If you expect (or even if you don't expect) to have any respondents that will have visual or hearing impairment, you should make sure that your survey is accessible to them.
After you add all your questions, images, and videos, we suggest going the extra mile, and making sure everything else (such as Alt Image Logo Text, etc) are compliant as well. The best way to make sure you've covered all the bases is to go through the following checklist at webaim.org. They're a great resource for things you should be looking for in accessibility.
You can also install the following Firefox plugin to test your survey:
Wave – accessibility evaluation tool (Firefox Plug in): http://wave.webaim.org/
Accessibility experts recommend that you keep in mind the language when distributing your survey to people with disabilities. People First Language is a linguistic practice that ensures the language and sentence structure used when addressing your audience emphasizes that these are people with a disability, and not "disabled people." People first language avoids language that would potentially cause a person with a disability to be dehumanized. In sentence structure name the person first, and their condition second so you're emphasizing that they are people first, not just a condition.
Good color contrast is important for visually impaired users. To evaluate the color contrast in your survey use this color contract checker: http://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/
Test your survey for Accessibility
SurveyGizmo provides you some basic accessibility checks, but you also want to make sure you've tested your survey for other accessibility issues (as indicated in the best practice list above). To run SurveyGizmo diagnostics go to Current Project > Run Diagnostics.
You'll notice below if you include a question type that may have problems working with screen readers, it will warn you by telling you the question type, and the question title.
We recommend using the following tools to further test for 508 compliance.
Wave – accessibility evaluation tool: (Firefox Plug in)
Exporting your Data into Accessible Text
The following information in this section was provided by one of our customers and it was so helpful we wanted to make sure we shared it!
If you need to create an export of your survey in Accessible Text (meaning it can be printed on a Braille printer), you can do so easily by exporting your survey to Word. To export your data to Accessible Text, please follow these easy steps:
Step 1: Go to Current Project > Build & Edit > Download
Step 2: Within Word select File > Save As
Step 3: In the Save As Type or Format fields select Plain Text
TAWS – accessibility analyzer: http://www.tawdis.net/index.html?lang=en
Wave – accessibility evaluation tool: (Firefox): http://wave.webaim.org/
Color Contrast checker: http://webaim.org/resources/contrastchecker/
WCAG 2.0 checklist: http://webaim.org/standards/wcag/checklist
Validation Tool: http://validator.w3.org/
Have questions? Want to comment on this? Join the discussion on our SurveyGizmo Support site.