Accessibility in Market Research

Authors
Brittany Meier
Qualitative Insights Consultant
Christelle Kamaliza
Sr. Insights Consultant

As we celebrate Disability Pride Month and the anniversary of the ADA, CMB strives to elevate inclusivity and accessibility in market research. Accessible research is crucial for equal access and enabling all consumers to have a voice with brands. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), persons with disabilities are those with physical or mental impairment that makes select activities and interfacing with the world more difficult. This definition encompasses a wide range of experiences, some visible, some not, that may impact bodily senses (e.g., vision, hearing), memory, communication, mental health, and more.

When drafting research materials (e.g., qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods), the first points of consideration often include meeting the business needs, ensuring relevance with the population of interest, length of interview (LOI), and analysis methods. It’s admittedly less often that market researchers position accessibility as a top-of-mind factor. Occasionally, items regarding disability status or accessibility needs are included, if they are not the primary topic of research.

At CMB, we’d like to propose a few simple ways to enhance inclusivity and accessibility for persons with disabilities:

  1. Be intentional with your research partners and be clear in your expectations for an inclusive audience in your sample and be prepared to have to offer an authentic survey experience. The same applies when setting expectations with participants about what to expect in a study (e.g., Will there be lots of stimuli? What accommodations can be made, if any?).
  2. When drafting content, consider the language you are using. Clearly present questions and response options. Avoid terms or phrases that are vague, biased, or demean individuals with disabilities. For example, include descriptive language for links (e.g., “click here to open the article” instead of just “click here”). Provide “other,” “does not apply,” or open-ended follow-up options where possible. This allows for a broader range of responses and provides more options for individuals who might prefer to add more context or answer in a different way.
  3. Consider the broader impact that disabilities can have on a person’s life. For example, including a “disabled” response option to employment questions enhances inclusivity and does not require extra effort from respondents (e.g., in entering an “other” text response). If interacting face to face, speaking directly with the person who has a disability, even if there is an interpreter or companion present, is a sign of respect and value.
  4. Leverage tools within survey platforms and word documents for accessibility checks and really consider the participants’ user experience. Allow continuous access to reference materials and notes, when appropriate. Ensure text clearly contrasts the background and include captions for any images, videos, charts, or tables included. GenAI can help (just don’t leverage AI for images with sensitive or proprietary data).
  5. When conducting research on-site, there are lots of location-based factors to consider. These include the physical environment is like (e.g., lighting, temperature, movement/volume/other environmental stimulation, upper floor access), whether American Sign Language interpreters can be on-site for larger groups, and where intercepts occur (e.g., conferences, trade shows, in-store). Consider additional resources that could be valuable to participants (e.g., notepad/pen, extended timeslots).

Throughout Disability Pride Month and beyond, we encourage you to acknowledge and celebrate the differences people have, either by incorporating new ideas into existing research methods and/or by outwardly celebrating the legislation that enhances accessibility more broadly.

Authors
Brittany Meier
Qualitative Insights Consultant
Christelle Kamaliza
Sr. Insights Consultant