Accessibility Considerations for Survey Creators in Qualtrics

Last modified 9/18/2023

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 work flows 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.

Checking Survey Accessibility

You can check to see if your survey is accessible by running Qualtrics' Accessibility Checker.

  1. Open your survey by clicking on the survey name from the Projects screen.
  2. Click on Tools Review Check Survey Accessibility.
  3. At the top of the page, an accessibility report will appear for the whole document, as well as specific recommendations for any inaccessible question types you have in the survey. A green check mark next to an item indicates no action needed for that item. A red X next to an item indicates action required for the recommendation.


How do I address the problems found by the Accessibility Checker?

There are two types of Accessibility reports. 

  • Full Survey Accessibility Report
  • Specific Question Type Accessibility Report

These report types are discussed below.

Full Survey Accessibility Report (Figure 1):

Figure 1:

Screenshot depicting a sample Full Survey Accessibility Report

In the example above, the red X's next to items 1, 2, and 4 indicate action is required for those items, as detailed below:

  • "Change the 'Next' and 'Previous' button text to something more readable instead of '>>'".
    • i.e. Use text such as Next and Back.
  • "Change the default survey title":
    • Make sure your title is concise, descriptive, and accurately communicates the nature of the survey.
  • "Enable survey option to show export tags".
    • Enable this option in the survey.

Option 3, in the above example, has a green check mark next to it, indicating no action is required for that item:

  • 'Number the survey questions.'
    • The green check mark indicates that the survey questions in this example are already properly numbered.

To address the problems for the Full Survey Accessibility Report example above, do the following:

  • Change the default survey navigation buttons to something more readable than ‘>>':
    • To change the text to something more descriptive like 'Next' and 'Back'., click Look & Feel General →  Next Button Text  /  Back Button Text and enter the text you would like to use (Figure 2).

Figure 2:

Screenshot depicting the Next Button Text and Back Button Text fields  

  • Change the default survey title:
    • You can do this under Survey Options →  Survey Experience →  Survey Title (Figure 3). 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.

Figure 3:

Screenshot depicting the Survey Experience pane, including the Survey Title field 

  • 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 (Figure 4).
    • 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. 

Figure 4:

Screenshot depicting the Survey Experience pane, including the Show Question Numbers field 

Specific Question Type Accessibility Report (Figure 5):

Figure 5:

Screenshot depicting a Specific Question Type Accessibility Report 

In the example above, the red X next to a recommendation indicates action is needed to make the specific survey question more accessible for users:

  • In this example, the recommendation reads "A Constant Sum question of the type Choices is a recommended alternative".

To address the changes suggested for a specific question type, see the section below entitled Inaccessible Question Types 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.

Using Images and Videos in Qualtrics

If you embed a video in your Qualtrics form, please ensure that it has captions encoded. For more information about adding captions to YouTube videos, check Google's instructions for Adding Subtitles and Closed Captions to Personal YouTube Videos

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.

Inaccessible Question Types

Inaccessible question types include any question that requires the user to use drag and drop, has a slider, or requires interaction with graphics.

For Reference: 



    • 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 visit Qualtrics Support.



Non-Accessible Question Type

Constant Sum (Slider)

Accessible Question Type Alternative

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

Non-Accessible Question Type

Matrix (Bipolar);
Matrix (Maxdiff)

Accessible Question Type Alternative

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

Non-Accessible Question Type

Rank Order;
Pick, Group, and Rank

Accessible Question Type Alternative

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

Non-Accessible Question Type

Heat Map;
Hot Spot

Accessible Question Type Alternative

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.

Non-Accessible Question Type

Graphic Slider

Accessible Question Type Alternative

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


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 Exclusive" Multiple Choice Answers 

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: There is 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.
    • Status: Qualtrics is aware of this issue and working to remediate it.


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