I’ve been approached to take on some responsibilities for my organisation’s Survey Monkey account. Survey Monkey claims that it has a single purpose: “to enable anyone to create professional online surveys quickly and easily”. We use it for internal and external consultations, as a 3rd party alternative to the clunky CMS which is currently running our corporate sites.
The first thing I was keen to establish was whether Survey Monkey was accessible. If we’re using it for important Council consultations and some of our users face barriers in completing the survey then we, quite rightly, risk claims of discrimination. Moreover, if the surveys are poor in terms of usability, the response rate is likely to suffer.
My first port of call was Survey Monkey itself, which had the following to say:
Your SurveyMonkey survey designs are now Section 508 compliant and accessible!
SurveyMonkey is now the only online survey application whose surveys are Section 508 Certified. We ensure that by using our standard survey designs, your survey will meet all current US Federal Section 508 certification guidelines. Our developers have updated our SurveyMonkey survey design system across the board in all accounts. All standard survey designs are accessible and 508 certified and compliant for respondents with disabilities. This has all been accomplished without changing the appealing look or function of your survey.
- You do not need to add any special settings or change anything within your survey design.
- If you are using a standard survey theme in your survey design, it is automatically 508 compliant.
This seems quite encouraging. However, compliance to Section 508 does not inherently mean complete accessibility, and is also not a legal benchmark here in the UK.
I next came across a Survey of Survey Tools done by the Web Accessibility Centre at the Ohio State University, looking at the accessibility of six of the top survey tools. This identifies a few issues which it suggests have not been solved by the recent efforts to comply with Section 508.
The overall grade given to Survey Monkey in this survey was B, meaning the majority of it was accessible. Problem areas included accessibility for sighted keyboard users, especially when in Windows’ High-Contrast mode. It was also found that a keyboard user would not be able to navigate as an administrator. This means we could risk discriminating against our own staff as well as the end user.
I now intend to carry out some direct testing, and will publish the results here when that is complete.