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Qualtrics - Accessibility

Qualtrics Accessibility Topics

Service Overview
Qualtrics Accessibility Status
Information for Users with Disabilities
Information for Instructors and Survey Creators
Service Roadmap & Vendor Accessibility Documentation
Get Help or Provide Feedback

Service Overview

Qualtrics is a survey platform that can be used to create and take surveys.

Qualtrics utilizes a number of inaccessible question types that some respondents may not be able to complete with assistive technology such as screen readers. Most inaccessible question types have been disabled for use by CU Boulder survey creators to promote equal access for survey recipients. However, the question types available to CU Boulder survey creators still have a number of known accessibility and usability issues. OIT is working with Qualtrics to obtain commitments for remediating these issues.

Qualtrics Accessibility Status

Some question types available to CU Boulder survey creators have known accessibility and usability issues. Details about specific question types can be found below under the “Information for Assistive Technology Users” section.

The Qualtrics survey creator interface is currently not accessible to screen reader users and may not be fully accessible to keyboard-only users or screen magnifier users.

For the best experience using Qualtrics in your browser, we recommend using Safari or Chrome. 

Statements on this page about the accessibility of Qualtrics’ survey software are based on accessibility testing done most recently in December 2018 and may no longer represent the current status of the software. 

Information for Assistive Technology Users

Survey-Taking Issues

Likert Matrix

The Likert Matrix question type consists of a grid of radio buttons: Likert Matrix Example

Known Issues:

  • NVDA does not read out column headings in Firefox for Likert matrix questions.
  • When viewing this question type on a desktop, ensure that your browser window is set to the full width of the screen (maximized). If the window is narrow (restored), Qualtrics will switch to mobile view. VoiceOver has some difficulties interacting with the Matrix options in mobile view.
  • Some Matrix questions may have “Make Exclusive” functionality enabled which means that respondents cannot answer more than one option per column and row. This is common in questions that require ranking responses. 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 to screen reader users.
    Workaround: No known workaround; however, if you are answering a survey and your answers are getting deleted for a Matrix 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
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. Here's a 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.
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”. Here's a 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 inaccessible to screen reader users and may not be fully accessible to keyboard-only users or screen magnifier users.

If you are asked to create a Qualtrics survey as part of a course, please notify your instructor that the survey creator interface is not accessible. If you and your instructor would like assistance identifying an accessible survey creation tool for your coursework, please contact

Information for Instructors and Survey Creators

If you are using Qualtrics surveys in your course, make sure you follow the guidelines below under “Information for Survey Creators”. If you are requiring your students to use the Qualtrics platform to create surveys, be aware that the survey creator interface is not accessible to some users with disabilities. Additionally, we recommend including information about the best practices for creating accessible surveys in your course.

Checking Survey Accessibility

When creating a Qualtrics survey, run the Qualtrics Accessibility Checker. This will highlight any inaccessible question types as well as survey configuration settings that should be modified for better accessibility. For guidance on how to resolve the configuration setting recommendations, please consult the Common Survey Accessibility Suggestions section of the Survey Configuration page.

  • The survey configuration options include changing the default survey title, showing question numbers, and changing the text on the navigation buttons.
  • 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.
  • Enabling question numbers helps users keep track of the order of the questions. You can enable this under Survey Options → Survey Experience.
  • Please note: if you plan to use Survey Logic, you should add a note 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 users do not believe that they have skipped a question accidentally.
  • If the accessibility checker indicates you are using an inaccessible question type, see the “Inaccessible Question Types” section below for examples of workarounds using accessible question types.

Enabled Question Types to Avoid

There are a few question types currently enabled in the CU Boulder instance of Qualtrics that have inaccessible subtypes that cannot be turned off for campus without turning off the entire question type. Please follow the guidance below to ensure your survey is accessible.

Using Images and Videos in Qualtrics

If you embed a video in your Qualtrics form, please ensure that it has captions encoded or burned in. 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. Alt text 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 or Qualtrics’s Image Properties documentation.

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 (The list of question type accessibility is also available on Qualtrics’s site). 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 or at 30­­­3-735-4357 (5-HELP from an on-campus phone) to schedule a consultation.

Accessible Question Types Inaccessible Question Types
  • Descriptive Text
  • Graphic (if alt text is added)
  • Multiple Choice
  • Matrix - (except Bipolar and Maxdiff)
  • Slider
  • Text Entry
  • Side by Side
  • Drill Down
  • Timing
  • Meta Info
  • File Upload
  • Net Promoter® Score
  • Captcha Verification
  • Autocomplete with Supplemental Data
  • Autocomplete with Google Maps
  • Rank Order
  • Pick, Group, and Rank
  • Graphic Slider
  • Matrix - (Bipolar and Maxdiff)
  • Constant Sum
  • Graphic Slider
  • Hot Spot
  • Heat Map

Accessible Workarounds for Inaccessible Questions

Some of the following workarounds require the use of Display Logic. For assistance with this tool, please contact Qualtrics through the Qualtrics Support Center (login with “cuboulder” as the Organization ID), or call the Qualtrics Support Center at 1-800-340-9194.

Non-Accessible Question Type Accessible Question Type Alternative

Rank Order;

Examples of Rank Order subtypes and their level of accessibility

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

Pick, Group, and Rank

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 each rank be assigned to only one option unless you know how many options will be assigned to each group ahead of time.

Pick, Group, and Rank To Likert Matrix Workaround Example (when there are a set number of items in each group)

Pick, Group, and Rank To Likert Matrix and Text Entry Workaround Example (when there are variable items in each group)

Matrix (Bipolar);
Matrix (Maxdiff)

It is recommended to simply use a Likert Matrix question (of type Dropdown).

Bipolar to Likert Matrix Workaround Example

MaxDiff to Likert Matrix Workaround Example

Constant Sum

Examples of Constant Sum subtypes and their level of accessibility

Recommended subtype: Choices.

Subtypes Bars, Sliders, and Constant Sum are not fully accessible to all users.

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

Heat Map; Hot Spot

Both heat map and hotspot questions do not have an accessible alternative because they are based on the respondent viewing an image and selecting regions or points on an image, which is an inherently visual task.

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 instructor on behalf of the students.

To request an exception, please fill out the Qualtrics Accessibility Exception Request form. The Digital 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.

Service Roadmap & Vendor 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 the Qualtrics Support Center (login with SSO and log in with “cuboulder” as the Organization ID), or call the Qualtrics Support Center at 1-800-340-9194.

Get Help or Provide Feedback

OIT has partnered with Disability Services to provide assistance for accessibility issues related to OIT supported services. If you need assistance, please contact the IT Service Center at or at 303-735-4357.

We want to hear from you about this service. If you’re having problems using this service or you have more information about the accessibility of this service that we should share with others on this webpage, please let us know by contacting the IT Service Center at or at 303-735-4357.

You can also give Qualtrics feedback regarding accessibility of their applications and services through the Qualtrics Support Center (select login with SSO and log in with “cuboulder” as the Organization ID), or call the Qualtrics Support Center at 1-800-340-9194.

Instructions / Tutorials