Accessible Survey Design

For over a year, The Public Library Blueprints blog has used Public Library Annual Report (PLAR) data to demonstrate different methods for data analysis and visualization. Hopefully, readers have found a piece or two of PLAR data to spark their interest or even inform a decision. We also want to recognize that library staff collect much of their own data on programs and services specific to their library. When libraries want to hear directly from the communities they serve, what data collection method will they often turn to? Surveys, of course! So, let’s take a quick break from data analysis and visualization and return to this tool for gathering library data. Even flawless analysis and impeccable visualizations will fall short if the survey was not built with accessibility in mind.

The validity of a library survey depends on its ability to gather data that accurately depict the communities served by the library. These communities will include people with disabilities. Recent data shows that around 13% of the population of the United States is living with a disability, so the value of an accessible survey cannot be overstated. Accessible surveys are designed so people with a range of backgrounds and abilities can fill out the survey without undue inconvenience, ensuring their opinions are heard. A survey that is not accessible will hinder people from taking the survey. This excludes people from historically marginalized groups such as those with a disability. Basing decisions and planning off such a data set can result in the continuation of systems and processes that are inconsiderate of an entire population segment. Creating accessible surveys will allow library staff to hear from all the communities they serve…

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