Data is important

It allows us to identify trends, the impact we’re making and to focus on areas or communities that may need greater attention
And one way that we can collect data is by our beloved surveys. 
I say beloved because we all love to have a good sigh when a survey is mentioned,  or when we receive one in our mailboxes.
And one community more entitled than most to feel this way are disabled people due to the inaccessibility of surveys.
But, despite this, when done correctly, surveys are up there with the most effective, efficient and accessible ways of collecting data. 
Recently, we worked with MCRActive to help them make their survey as accessible and engaging as possible for disabled people, and I thought It’d be useful to share a few tips with others on this topic.
So, here’s three ways you can #DoItDifferently to make surveys better for disabled people.

First off, format

Sending a survey out via Microsoft Forms or Survey Monkey doesn’t quite cut it when looking to engage disabled people.
These forms aren’t always accessible, particularly for visually impaired impaired people with potential incompatibility with screen readers and people with learning disabilities who may need supporting pictorials. 
That’s not to mention the many disabled people digitally excluded.
Offering your surveys in the broadest range of formats possible; Braille, easy-read, Word, Sign Language Interpreted and face-to-face will give it the best possible chance of being engaged with by the people you want to reach.

Second up, terminology

Using the wrong terminology in your survey can switch disabled people off straight away.
‘The Disabled’, ‘Wheelchair bound’, ‘Learning Disabilities and Autism’ (used as a collective) are all terms we still see and hear often but would switch many disabled people off from your survey or potentially result in a strongly worded email. 
Taking a bit of time to speak to the communities you’re hoping to engage, or organisations representing them, to make sure you get the terminology right goes a long way in assuring the communities you’re hoping to engage with. 

Finally, network

You can have the most accessible survey in the world but if you’re just putting it through you’re traditional networks then it may not reach the disabled people you’re hoping too.
Do a bit of organisation mapping before your survey to identify organisations already engaging with the communities you’re hoping to, and reach out to them to ask if they’ll help you distribute — most will want the voice of the communities they represent to be heard in your work. 
This’ll help build a positive relationship with a new organisation, reach an already established and engaged network of people and give your survey the best possible chance of getting to those you want to.
And that’s three ways organisations can #DoItDifferently to make surveys better for disabled people.
Let us know how surveys could be made better for you as a disabled person, or if you’re an organisation who’s had success in engaging disabled people in surveys and how you went about doing this.
And follow @BeyondEmpowerUK and sign up to our mailing list, to learn how we can #DoItDifferently to make more of what we do work better for disabled people.