A focus group including people with accessibility needs, as an example of making research accessible

How to make your market research projects as accessible as possible

Making research accessible is more crucial than ever before.

But what do we mean by accessible research, why has it become so important, and how can you make your brand’s market research projects as accessible as possible?

Read on to find out...

What do we mean by accessible market research?

Accessibility falls under the umbrella of Diversity, Equality and Inclusion (DE&I), which stands for fair treatment and opportunity for all.

In short, accessible market research is research where those with accessibility needs or impairments are given equal opportunities to participate in research as easily and comfortably as those who do not.

This includes individuals with:

  • Visual impairments (e.g., Colour blindness, loss of vision, blindness)
  • Motor/Mobility Impairment (e.g., Para/quadriplegia, growth impairments, arthritis)
  • Auditory impairments (e.g., Mild/severe hearing loss, tinnitus, use of a hearing aid)
  • Neurological impairments (e.g., Epilepsy, Autism, Cerebral Palsy)
  • Cognitive impairments (e.g., Mild to severe Alzheimer’s or Dementia)
  • Learning impairments (e.g., Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Dyscalculia, ADHD, ADD)
  • Medical impairments (e.g., Chronic illnesses or muscular issues, endometriosis)
  • Psychological impairments (e.g., Anxiety, Depression, PTSD, Eating disorders)

A young woman in a wheelchair taking part in market research, as an example of making research accessible.

Why is accessibility in market research so important?

Firstly, and most importantly, everyone has the right to be heard.

Astonishingly, 49% of working age adults feel, because of their condition or impairment, that they are excluded from society, and 41% of disabled individuals do not feel valued by society.

Market research projects provide a space for consumers to express their thoughts, opinions and ideas on the products and services that affect their daily lives.

As such, the sector has a huge role to play in making research accessible, opening up opportunities to anyone who wants to take part and making it as straightforward and enjoyable to do so as possible.

This has been emphasised recently by the Market Research Society’s recent publication of their diversity and inclusion best practice guides, with the aim to improve representation of groups that are often underrepresented – many of which we have referenced throughout this blog!

Accessible market research is also essential for brand success.

As it stands, 15% of the world’s population has some form of disability or accessibility need, with 14.1 million of those living in the UK alone – that's a considerable number of consumers your brand could be missing out on if it doesn’t take steps to become inclusive and accessible!

Customers now expect brands to be inclusive, and diversity and representation in advertising has been seen to have a big impact on brand revenue (when done well).

Here are five ways to make your market research projects accessible to everyone:

1. Raise accessibility awareness and understanding among your teams

According to the Scope Disability perception gap report, 13% of people hardly ever or never think of disabled people as the same as other people, and 32% of people believe that people with accessibility needs aren’t as productive as non-disabled people.

What’s more, as shared in "The state if DE&I in market research and the way forward” debate at MRS’s Impact 2022 event, 30% of people working within the market research sector believe equality is not there.

Under these circumstances, and without the right level of understanding within your own teams, it will be difficult to make your market research projects accessible.

We’d therefore recommend increasing awareness and understanding of accessibility needs and impairments among your brand and market research teams.

This can be done through regular training and event attendance (such as the MRS conference shared above) and implementing inclusive workplace models and policies.

Perhaps one of the most important considerations here is your team’s understanding and use of language. MRS’s Diversity & Inclusion Best Practice Guides: Use of Language eBook has a wealth of helpful information here that you can follow, including:

  • ask how individuals prefer to be addressed/how they prefer to describe themselves in qualitative projects. Never make assumptions around this
  • avoid using the word “diverse” to describe a person or people
  • use the phrases “disabled people,” “disabled employees” and “disabled customers” in line with the Social Model of Disability, and avoid saying ‘people with a disability,” “employees with disability” or “customers with a disability”
  • instead of “able-bodied,” use the term “non-disabled”

2. Optimise your recruitment process for those with accessibility needs

Successful market research can’t take place without the right participants – and to ensure you can find them and make your research as accessible as possible, you need to make the recruitment process accessible, too!

This includes:

1. Your recruitment methods

There are lots of different ways to recruit participants for your research; from social media posts and targeted advertising to finding people on forums, in market research communities and via list recruitment.

However, while many of these are highly impactful for recruiting niche and hard-to-reach audiences, some popular recruitment methods don’t account for those with accessibility needs. For example, it would be ill advised to try and recruit participants with auditory impairments over the phone.

Therefore, once you have established a target audience for your research, ensure you pick recruitment methods that are not only suited to that audience, but also account for those within that audience who might have an accessibility need.

For example, if you’re looking to recruit Gen Z participants, social media is especially effective; just make sure that your adverts are also optimised for those who may have visual impairments (i.e., audio descriptions and making images easily visible for those who might be colour blind).

2. Your recruitment screener and consent forms

Often, market research recruitment screeners are carried out over the phone.

To ensure accessibility for all participants, be sure to ask in your initial registration forms whether they have a preferred method of communication or survey completion; for example, over the phone, or via an online form, or with the support of a friend/family member/carer.

As shared in the MRS Diversity & Inclusion Best Practice Guides: Use of Language eBook, you should also use plain language and avoid colloquialisms that may be specific to a geography, profession or culture.

Therefore, make sure that your questions are straightforward/non-ambiguous/easy to understand and answer.

A market researcher completing a screener with a disabled participant, representing ways of making research accessible.

3. Ensure you make the right choice between face-to-face and virtual methodologies

The MRS Diversity & Inclusion Best Practice Guides: Use of Different Methods eBook outlines the benefits and pitfalls of both face-to-face and virtual research for those with accessibility needs.

So, you need to ensure that you select the best possible methodology that will enable your specific participants to participate comfortably, and to the best of their ability.

Here are some considerations for both:

1. If your market research is taking place virtually...

Optimise your online applications for ease of accessibility. This includes your website, or any apps that may be used as part of the research. The Web Accessibility Initiative shares some brilliant guidance on digital accessibility, usability and inclusion that you can follow.

As shared in the MRS Diversity & Inclusion Best Practice Guides: Use of Different Methods eBook, you could include IT systems and software that enable the manipulation of digital text (e.g., style and size), voice-to-text and voice-activated programs, audio recordings, subtitles and close captioning to make it as easy and comfortable for your participants to understand and engage with the research as possible.

2. If your research is face to face...

Choose an appropriate and convenient venue that will ensure your participants are comfortable for the duration of the study.

As shared in the MRS Diversity & Inclusion Best Practice Guides, for example, if your participants have mobility impairments, select a venue that is (where possible) within easy reach of their home and has onsite parking, is on a ground floor and has ramps and a disabled bathroom.

Alternatively, if your participants have a neurological impairment such as autism, they might have sensitivities to certain sensations. In this case, be sure to select a venue that is in a quiet location with gentle lighting.

Whatever accessibility requirements your participants have, you should always be thinking of other ways you might be able to support them, such as paying for parking, enabling guide dogs and carers to attend, or providing a sign language interpreter.

4. Share the results of the research in accessible ways

Your research isn’t over for your participants once all the data is gathered; after taking part, they will understandably be keen to find out the impact of their time, efforts and opinions!

Ensure that you present these findings to your participants in a way that they can easily access and understand; for example, giving them a call on the phone rather than sending an email with the outcomes, or vice-versa, depending on their requirements.

5. Request participant feedback

Once your research is complete, be sure to ask your participants what they enjoyed about it in a way that they can easily and comfortably respond in the time they need, and whether there’s anything you could do to cater for their needs more effectively for next time.

Making research accessible is just one of the many steps we can take to make the world a better place.

Since our inception in 2011, our passion here at Angelfish has been people – and as a result, we have the drive and ambition to find only the very best participants for your market research.

So, if you’re planning a project and would like further guidance on making your recruitment process more accessible, get in touch!

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