Choosing Accessible Questions

Not all SmartSurvey question types are equally accessible. When designing your surveys for accessibility, you need to take into account the accessibility of different quesion types.

Question Types

Accessible Question Types

  • Single text box  
  • Comment / essay box 
  • Multiple textboxes 
  • Radio buttons (Horizontal or vertical) 
  • Checkboxes (Horizontal or vertical) 
  • Other option for radio buttons or checkboxes 
  • Dropdown multiple choice (only one answer). 

Partially Accessible Question Types

  • Matrix of choices (moderate usability issues for screen reader users) 
    • Avoid using checkboxes 
  • Date (Note the calendar widget is not accessible but users can add a date manually) 
  • Time 
  • Date and time 
  • Recommend to a friend (NPS), 

Partially-Accessible Functionality 

  • Save and continue  

This option is mainly accessible. We think that most users with access needs would be able to use this functionality but some usability issues. It’s on our roadmap to make further improvements.  

Inaccessible question types to avoid

Do not use: 

  • Matrix of choices with Checkboxes 
  • Ranking 
  • Continuous sum 
  • Slider 
  • Semantic Differential. 

Drafting accessible questions 

Follow these suggestions to make your survey as accessible as possible. 

Enable question numbers 

Keep question numbers on to enable respondents to keep track of questions. 

Keep label text short

When appropriate, make the first word or words meaningful to the user.  

Providing short labels should be balanced with tone of voice. 

Do Don't
First Name Your First Name
Last Name Your Last Name
Email Your Email
Phone Number Your Phone Number

ser details with short labels - Screen shot of SmartSurvey admin.

Figure 1: User details 

Avoid “Enable editor” 

The “Enable Editor” function allows additional HTML to be added into the question tag (Heading). We recommend avoiding this option.  

However, if additional content is added to the question heading tag this should be done carefully and tested for accessibility.  

Predefined options 

Where possible use multiple choice to reduce amount of text entry needed. 

Use plain language 

  • Use plain language. 
  • Explain any specialist terms.

Abbreviations 

N/A is often used as an option. Not everyone knows what N/A stands for. For maximum accessibility, use the full word instead of the acronym or provide an explanation at the beginning of the survey. 

Not applicable or No answer? 

You may have to change the wording depending on the question. 

Reduce data entry 

Use single or multiple choice questions. Text boxes and dropdown menus require more effort from the user so avoid these.

Multiple choice (Only one answer and multiple answers) 

Use a vertical layout where appropriate. 

Vertical layouts are easy to scan read especially for screen magnifier users. 

List of vertical radio buttons with a down pointing arrow - Screen shot of multiple choice question.”

Figure 2: Arrow indicates the "F pattern" used when a sighted user scans content. 

Accessible likert scales 

Don't hide instructions or key explanations in blocks of text. Chunk text and use bullet lists for easier scanning. 

Example:

Do:

Select how much you agree with the following statements using this scale: 

1 = do not agree at all 

10 = completely agree. 

Don’t:

Your feedback is important to us and will be used to improve our service to you and all our customers. On a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is do not agree and 10 is completely agree) how much do you agree with the following statements? 

 

Matrix of Choices 

Where possible, we recommend using single multiple choice questions instead of the matrix of choices. 

This question format is partially accessible but there are issues for screen reader users who use NVDA screen reader with Chrome browser. 

Avoid using matrixes of checkboxes as these are not available for NVDA screen reader users who use Chrome browser. 

If using this question type, chunk statements into sections so users aren't overwhelmed. For example, use no more than 4 statements per matrix. 


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