Qualtrics Accessibility Best Practices

Survey Configuration

Look and Feel

Under the General section:

  • Ensure you use the approved theme for your campus. Breaking away from this theme could create color contrast, text font readability, and focus indicator issues.
  • Either change the default survey navigation button that has forward arrows to “submit” if you are creating a one page survey, or change the backwards and forwards arrows to “previous” and “next” if you are creating a multi-page survey. The default arrows are not descriptive enough for assistive technology.
  • If this is a multi-page survey, please ensure you display a progress bar.
  • Include a header and wrap the following HTML around your header text: <h1>Header Text</h1>

Survey Options

Under Survey Options, ensure you complete the following:

  • Enable the progress bar for multiple page surveys.
  • Enter a descriptive survey title in the Survey Title field.
  • Enter a brief description of the survey in the Meta Description field.

Question Number Assignment

In most cases, it’s recommended that all questions in a survey have assigned question numbers. Assigned question numbers ensure that if a user does encounter an issue during the survey taking process, that it’s easy for the user to report the exact place in which the issue is happening.

There are two ways to assign question numbers. You can have the question numbers auto-generated by selecting “Show Question Numbers” under Qualtrics Survey Options or you can manually assign question numbers.

Auto-Generated Question Numbers

Auto-generated question numbers can be used on basic surveys with little to no complexity. Complexity can include (1) built-in logic based on what a user answered in a question; or (2) scenario-driven surveys where the scenario is included as descriptive text prior to a series of questions. Why avoid auto-generated question numbers in these two situations? When logic is introduced, the clean-up effort on auto-generated question numbers is greater than manually assigning the question numbers once the full survey is developed. In addition, if you are using descriptive text throughout a survey to provide scenarios with follow-up questions, the auto-generated question numbers will be added to the scenarios as well, which again requires more clean-up by the survey creator. 

Manually Assigned Question Numbers

While it may seem like extra work to manually assign question numbers, it will actually reduce your level of effort on complex surveys that are either scenario or logic based. It’s important to think out the structure of your question numbers in both scenarios.

  • For scenario-based surveys with descriptive block sections, it’s recommended that you define a structured numbering process up front. For example, “S1” for the scenario-based descriptive text followed by Q1.1, Q1.2, etc. for the questions that tie to that scenario. You may also want to include an explanation at the beginning of the survey that S stands for “Scenario” and Q stands for “Question.”
  • For logic-based surveys, survey creators should consider how the question numbers will be assigned based on level of complexity. The survey creator may deem that the overall logic is too complex for question numbers. In this case, the survey creator should leave question numbers off as they may provide more confusion if a survey taker thinks they have missed a whole section of the survey. 

Use the following question types

If a question type is not identified in the list below, it means that question type is not accessible to people with disabilities.

  • Constant Sum – only the Choices type.
  • Descriptive Text
  • Drill Down
  • File Upload
  • Matrix – only the Constant Sum and Likert type.
  • Multiple Choice
  • Rank Order – only the Text Box and Graphic type.
  • Side by Side
  • Text Entry

While you may notice that there are a few other accessible question types noted on the Qualtrics Accessibility page (e.g., Captcha, Timing, Meta Info, etc.), we removed them due to accessibility, user privacy, and general usability issues.

Required Fields

Once you have designated a field as required by setting it to “Force Response,” please make sure to include “(required)” at the end of the field label. For example, “Name (required).” Qualtrics currently doesn’t have a way to identify a field as required both visually and for assistive technology. They are working on fixing this user experience issue.

Add Alt Text to Survey Images

Add alt text to any images included in the survey. For example you may have image-based radio buttons. These images should have assigned alt text that describes the intent of the image.

  • For general images displayed in a question description, you should select the image, then the Image Properties to assign the alt text.
  • For radio button answers, you should add the alt text under the “Description” field when uploading the image.

Ensure embedded videos have captions and transcripts

If you are embedding a video in a question, the captions should be incorporated into the video wherever it will be stored (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.). The captions will automatically become available in Qualtrics if they have been applied to the video storage platform. Please do not directly upload a video to Qualtrics. The transcript should be linked to below the video.

Note: Embedded videos currently do not resize properly on mobile devices.

General Survey Best Practices

Adapted from Survey Gizmo’s “7 Survey Question Best Practices to Keep in Mind for Optimal Results.”

  • Use open-ended questions sparingly.
  • Ensure your answers to close-ended questions are completely exhaustive for rich data collection.
  • Be consistent with the formatting of your questions and keep your questions short and clear. The more complex, the more up for interpretation by survey takers.
  • Be inclusive in the writing of your survey – keep in mind gender identity, race, disabilities, and the overall diverse identities of your respondents.
  • If you have more than five questions, break up your survey into multiple pages. This is important for people responding on mobile devices and people with disabilities. Try to keep your full survey to under 10 questions. 10 questions take an average of 5 minutes to complete, which is the ideal time length for a survey. You do not want to exhaust your respondents or lose them because they needed to move on to something else. Always ask yourself what the main goals of the survey are to hone in on the exact questions you need.

Last Updated

Kristina England
May 22, 2020