Let’s talk about surveys and ADA
In recent years, ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) got traction, thanks to media buzz and some celebrity and big brands lawsuits. Actually, the origins of ADA are coming from the past century, when it was signed into law – on July 26, 1990, by President George H.W. Bush. It prohibits discrimination and guarantees that people with disabilities have the same opportunities as everyone else to participate in USA life. And this includes using the web and, of course, participating in online surveys.
Before dig deeper, let’s take a step back. Talking about ADA in this article, there is good to know that the latter compliance requirements are based on some specific standards. For the States, this is the Section 508 Refresh for accessible ICT. There an equivalent standard in EU as well: EN 301-549:2019, but both of these are aligned to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1. So when we think of a general standard for the web – WCAG 2.1 it is.
Here comes the challenge, the internal conflict for us as Market Research professionals and companies. There is an ongoing strive to have more entertaining and interactive surveys, keeping the respondents active and gathering meaningful data. The audience of younger respondents requires this with the reduced attention span, pushing the imagination of the marketers into making interactive, catchy questions. At the same time, these questions are extremely difficult for people with disabilities, making the surveys impossible to fill. But that’s not all.
There are specific requirements like keyboard navigation, skip to main content, requirements for text contrast, etc., adding even more complexity to the fragile balance between interactivity and ADA compliance. This adds overall complexity and makes the task of introducing ADA styling to existing surveys or making new ones quite difficult.
Since we were getting more and more requests from our Market Research clients and partners for ADA compliant surveys, we decided to approach this problem on a large scale.
To do this we’ve spent around half a year solving this riddle.
- We have carefully analyzed the specific requirements of the WCAG 2.1 standard that crosses the survey platform we were using – Forsta Surveys™, and its particular question types. Then we went over the Section 508 / EN 301-549 specific details.
- We have checked, tested, and finally selected a toolset for testing purposes that covers WCAG standard requirements, needed for surveys, and was Section 508 / EN 301-549 compliant. We’ve chosen AXE and WAVE tools for our needs in this particular development.
- We’ve developed a complex ADA style over the existing Forsta Surveys™ default style and have then simplified its usage by generalizing the style application procedures. It covers navigation, contrast, and additional information “visible” only to disabled people through the screen reader software they use.
- We’ve realized that even the best testing software is not enough. We need to communicate with our local community of disabled people through their organizations, creating the testing framework and evaluating each question with them over several points. Thanks to their help, we were able to further polish the questions and remove some hard-to-interact question types. They tested the templates with the most used screen readers – NVDA, JAWS and Microsoft Narrator.
As a result, we were able to develop Forsta Surveys™ survey styles that follow the ADA requirements and consist of around 15 different question types that preserve maximum interactivity. In addition, we have created an accompanying framework and helper guidelines to support our client requirements, and where needed to apply some contrast changes.
And now, ADA styles have been added to our Bright Platform as one of the essential tools to our current and future partners and clients. If you’re using Forsta Surveys™ as your preferred platform, and you’re looking for ADA or EU directives compliance, do not hesitate to get back in touch for more information and a test drive. Just drop a mail to email@example.com or visit the Bright Platform page and contact us there!
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