Qualtrics - Accessibility

Last Updated: 02/08/2018

Qualtrics Accessibility Topics

What is Accessibility?
Qualtrics Accessibility Considerations
Information for Assistive Technology Users
Information for Survey Creators
Service Roadmap & Accessibility Documentation
Get Help or Provide Feedback

What is Accessibility?

‘Accessible’ means a person with a disability is afforded the opportunity to acquire the same information, engage in the same interactions, and enjoy the same services as a person without a disability in an equally effective and equally inclusive manner, with substantially equivalent ease of use.

Qualtrics Accessibility Considerations

The Qualtrics interface transitioned to a new version on of July 18th, 2016, which was accompanied by changes to the accessibility of the interface.

Qualtrics has a number of inaccessible question types, most of which have been disabled for use by CU Boulder survey creators. For the remaining enabled question types, there are a number of known significant accessibility issues and usability issues. OIT is working with the Qualtrics development team to obtain commitments for remediating these issues.

Information for Assistive Technology Users

Survey-Taking Issues

The survey-taking side of Qualtrics is currently under development to remediate the question types to WCAG 2.0 standards. Qualtrics has discontinued its “screen-reader optimized” interface as of July 2016, and is now addressing high-impact accessibility issues like labeling across all question types. Improvements will be rolled out periodically and updates can be found here as they happen.

Mobile Use

Qualtrics is not accessible to users using assistive technology on a mobile device. This includes surveys taken via a browser as well as the Offline App.

Make Answer Exclusive Errors

Qualtrics allows users to select “Make Exclusive” for multiple choice matrix answers, which forces the user to only select one option for each column in a matrix.

  • If you happen to select an answer in the same column as a previous answer, Qualtrics will deselect the previously-selected answer, and the page will not announce the change.
  • Workaround: No known workaround; however, if you are answering a survey and your answers are getting deleted for a matrix-type question, this may be the reason. You may detect this yourself by purposefully selecting two answers in the same column, then checking to see if the first answer was deselected.
  • Make Answer Exclusive Example
  • Status: Qualtrics is aware of this issue and working to remediate it.

Problems with Specific Question Types

Likert Matrix

  • The Likert Matrix question type consists of a grid of radio buttons.
  • Likert Matrix Example
  • Known Issues:
    • When viewing this question type on a desktop, ensure that your browser window is set to the full width of the screen. If the window is narrow, Qualtrics will switch to mobile view. VoiceOver is unable to interact with the matrix options in mobile view.

Bipolar Matrix

Bipolar Matrix questions consist of a descriptive label followed by a row of unlabeled radio buttons which is followed by a second label. The purpose of this question is to allow users to answer a question within a range of options.

  • Bipolar Matrix Example
  • Known Issues:
    • The lack of labels on the middle buttons make the question difficult to interpret.JAWS reads two right-hand descriptors for each line; it reads the descriptor for the line above it before reading the descriptor for that line.

Drill-Down Questions

Drill-Down questions are a series of drop-down boxes where each successive drop-down box only shows its contents once you have selected an item from the preceding list.

  • Drill-Down Example
  • Known Issues:
    • VoiceOver reads the page header instead of the drop-down box the first time it is selected

Multiple Choice: Multi Select Box

The Multi Select Box subtype of the Multiple Choice question type contains a list of items from which multiple options can be selected.

  • Multi Select Box Example
  • Known Issues:
    • It is not clear that these boxes allow multiple selections, so the function is unclear to screen reader users
    • Additionally, it is impossible to select answers that are not adjacent to each other using a keyboard only.

Matrix: MaxDiff

The MaxDiff subtype of the Matrix question is meant for use when there are two contrasting opinions someone might have on various items. For example, typical column titles are Like and Dislike.

  • MaxDiff Matrix Example
  • Known Issues:
    • MaxDiff matrix questions have a confusing structure to screen reader users. Visually, there should only be 3 columns: a left-side descriptor such as Like, a middle column with the row names, and a right-side descriptor such as Dislike.
    • However, screen reader users will encounter 7 columns, 4 of which are blank. Additionally, the row names are read as clickable, but they do not have a clickable function.

Are you seeing an issue not listed here? Report your problem to OIT.

Survey-Creating Issues

The survey creator side of Qualtrics is currently entirely inaccessible to screen reader users. Qualtrics will be remediating the survey creator interface after the survey taker interface has been brought up to WCAG 2.0 AA standards.

Qualtrics is inaccessible to individuals with significantly impaired vision, those who rely solely on a keyboard to access a computer, and those who use screen readers as their primary means of access. Significant issues were noted relating to navigation and access to essential functionality. Specifically, these individuals would not be able to independently complete the essential workflows required to create a survey, adjust survey options or manage a survey.

If you are asked to create a Qualtrics survey for credit or participation in a course, please notify your professor that this is an inaccessible interface for assistive technology users.

Information for Survey Creators

Checking Survey Accessibility

Every time you create a new survey in Qualtrics, you should check to make sure it is fully accessible. The best way is to run the Qualtrics Accessibility Checker. One way to run the Checker is to click on Tools, and then Check Survey Accessibility.

A second way to do this is by clicking on the Accessibility icon on the left side of each question. Depending on the question, you may see one of three colors:

  • ​Green Accessibility icon: This designates an accessible question.
  • Red Accessibility icon: This designates an inaccessible question. When you click on this button, Qualtrics will suggest accessible alternatives for the question type.
  • Orange Accessibility icon: This designates a question with moderate accessibility issues. When you click on this button, Qualtrics will suggest accessible alternatives for these questions.

If you click on the Accessibility icon, it will generate an accessibility report for the whole document, as well as specific recommendations for any inaccessible question types you have in the survey.

Full Survey Accessibility Report:

Specific Question Type Accessibility Report:

To address the problems for the full survey, do the following:

  • Change the default survey navigation buttons to something more readable than ‘>>’: The default navigation button text is “>>” and “<<”, which is usually read by screen readers as “greater than” and “less than”. Click on Look & Feel → General → Next Button Text  /  Back Button Text to change the text to something more descriptive like “Next” and “Back”. 

  • Change the default survey title: You can do this under Survey Options → Survey Experience → Survey Title. The default title for all surveys is “Online Survey Software | Qualtrics Survey Solutions”, which is not descriptive. Screen readers typically read the survey title first, so having an accurately named survey is important to help screen reader users find your survey, especially if they have multiple tabs or multiple Qualtrics surveys open.

  • Number the survey questions: This is typically enabled by default, but if the Accessibility checker returns a red X for this, you can enable this setting under Tools → Auto-Number Questions.

  • Enable survey option to show export tags (i.e., “Show Question Numbers”): This helps assistive technology users keep track of the order of the questions. You can enable this under Survey Options → Survey Experience.
    *Note: If you plan to use Survey Logic, you should add a disclaimer to the top of your survey that says: “Due to the use of survey logic, question numbers may not follow sequentially as you proceed through the survey.” This will help ensure that screen reader users do not believe that they have skipped a question accidentally.

To address the changes suggested for a specific question type, see the “Inaccessible Question Types” section below for examples of workarounds using accessible question types. To create accessible Multiple Choice questions, please use the default Vertical positioning or Column positioning, and not the Horizontal.

Enabled Question Types to Avoid

There are a few question types currently enabled in the CU Boulder instance of Qualtrics that have inaccessible subtypes. Please follow the guidance below to ensure your survey is accessible.

  • Multiple Choice: Avoid using the Multi Select Box subtype. You can use the Multiple Answer subtype instead. See the Multiple Choice Multi Select Box to Multiple Answer Workaround Example survey.
  • Matrix Table: Recommended that you uncheck the option that says “Make Mobile-Friendly” for Likert matrix questions. If a desktop screen reader user has the browser window set to a narrow size, Qualtrics will switch into its mobile view. The Matrix Table question is not accessible to all screen reader users in mobile view.

Using Images and Videos in Qualtrics

If you embed a video in your Qualtrics form, please ensure that it has captions encoded. Please contact the captioning service for assistance with this.

If you use any images in your survey, they must have alt-text provided for them, which describes in words what the image displays, if the image is relevant to the meaning of the form. If an image is purely decorative, you do not need to provide alt-text. For more help with alt-text, see the Qualtrics - Adding Alt-Text to a Graphic tutorial

Inaccessible Question Types

To ensure that every survey created at CU Boulder is accessible to individuals using screen readers and other assistive technology, CU Boulder only enables question types in Qualtrics that are accessible to assistive technology users. Inaccessible question types include any question that requires the user to use drag and drop, has a slider, or requires interaction with graphics. Using accessible question types ensures that individuals with low vision, blindness, or other disabilities will be able to complete your survey, as well as ensuring you are acting in accordance with the university’s Accessibility of Information and Communication Technology Policy and Standards.

If you attempt to send a survey with inaccessible question types, you will receive an error message titled Activate Survey Failed. You will need to remove the inaccessible question types from your survey before continuing.

Activate Survey Failed error message example

The inaccessible question types that have been disabled are listed below, along with examples of suggested workarounds using accessible question types. All inaccessible question types will appear greyed-out in Qualtrics. If you need help adapting your survey to only utilize accessible question types, please contact the IT Service Center at help@colorado.edu or at 30­­­3-735-4357 (5-HELP from an on-campus phone) to schedule a consultation.

Accessible Question Types Inaccessible Question Types
  • Descriptive Text
  • Multiple Choice
  • Matrix - (except Bipolar and Maxdiff)
  • Text Entry
  • Side by Side
  • Drill Down
  • Timing 
  • Meta Info
  • File Upload
  • Graphic
  • Slider
  • Rank Order
  • Matrix - (Bipolar and Maxdiff)
  • Constant Sum
  • Pick, Group, and Rank
  • Hot Spot
  • Heat Map
  • Graphic Slider
  • GAP Analysis
  • Net Promoter® Score
  • Captcha Verification

Accessible Workarounds for Inaccessible Questions

Some of the following workarounds require the use of Display Logic. For assistance with this tool, please contact the Qualtrics Help line at 1-800-340-9194 or support@qualtrics.com.  Comprehensive documentation is also available online via Qualtrics University.

Non-Accessible Question Type Accessible Question Type Alternative

Constant Sum (Slider)

For these question types a Text Entry or Matrix (Constant Sum or Text Entry) question would be the best alternative. This allows respondents to type their choices into a text box rather than having to use a slider image.
Slider to Text Entry (Form) Workaround Example

Matrix (Bipolar)
Matrix (Maxdiff)

It is recommended to simply use a Matrix (Likert) question with labels on all columns.
Bipolar to Likert Matrix Workaround Example
MaxDiff to Likert Matrix Workaround Example

Rank Order;
Pick, Group, and Rank

A Likert Matrix can be used in place of a Rank Order question. Each possible rank will be assigned its own column. You must enable Custom Validation for every column to restrict the user from selecting more than one answer per rank.
Rank Order to Likert Matrix Workaround Example

A series of Likert Matrix questions will substitute for a Pick, Group, and Rank question by allowing users to select a group for a series of statements and indicate a level of rank for each. However, this workaround will not allow you to require the users set up a strict rank order preference within each group.
Pick, Group, and Rank To Likert Matrix Workaround Example

Heat Map; Hot Spot

Both heat map and hot spot questions do not have a good alternative because they are based on the respondent viewing an image and selecting regions or points on an image, which cannot be "read" by a screen reader or completed by a visually impaired user.
Graphic Slider

It is recommended to use a Multiple Choice question instead with answer choices that correspond to the appropriate graphic options.
Graphic Slider to Multiple Choice Workaround Example

Gap Analysis

The Gap Analysis question also relies on images, so you can use a Likert Matrix and Multiple Choice follow-up questions to mimic the Gap Analysis questions with words instead of images. You will need to add Display Logic to the Multiple Choice questions so they only appear if negative answers were selected in the Matrix Question.
Gap Analysis to Matrix & Multiple Choice Workaround Example

Exception Requests

Exceptions may be granted if you have a business or research need to send a survey that is inaccessible and/or that contains inaccessible question types. If an exception is needed for multiple students in a course, the request must be submitted by the professor on behalf of the students.

To request an exception, please fill out the Qualtrics Accessibility Exception Request form. The ICT Accessibility Program will review your request and determine if an exception can be made in this case. In the meantime, please consider the Accessible Workarounds for Inaccessible Questions in the previous section.

Using Qualtrics in a Course

If you are requiring your students to use this service in your course, you should include the following statement in your syllabus:

“This course requires the use of Qualtrics, which is currently not accessible to users of assistive technology or has not yet been reviewed fully for accessibility. If you use assistive technology to access the course material, please contact your faculty member and Disability Services at 303-492-8671 or by email at dsinfo@colorado.edu as soon as possible to discuss other effective means for providing equal alternate access.”

Service Roadmap & Accessibility Documentation

OIT has worked with the CU Accessibility and Usability Lab to test Qualtrics' new interface. We will be working with the vendor to resolve issues that have surfaced, and will update this page as additional information becomes available.

If you would like to receive a copy of the Qualtrics VPAT, please contact Qualtrics Support at Support@Qualtrics.com.

Get Help or Provide Feedback

OIT has partnered with Disability Services to provide assistance for accessibility issues related to OIT supported services and we want to hear from you about this service. If you need assistance using this service or you have more information about the accessibility of this service that we should share with others, please contact the IT Service Center at help@colorado.edu or at 303-735-4357 (5-HELP from an on-campus phone).

You can also give Qualtrics feedback regarding accessibility of their applications and services at Support@Qualtrics.com.

Instructions / Tutorials