Writing an Effective Brief for Accessibility Research

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2 Feb 2021

Commissioning research that explores the accessibility of your service or product is the first step towards opening it up to wider group of people – with benefits for both consumer and the provider.

Over our fifty years of experience, clients have reported increased brand awareness, improved loyalty and engagement of customers, and a better edge over their competitors.

So where to start? A research brief is a good place to get down the key aims and help you to define your focus. Our Head of Research, Eric Harris, shares his advice:

Define your aim

Come with a clear idea of what you want to get out of the research. What is the overriding goal?  

The more precise you can be with this, the better the research. For example, ‘We want to find out how disabled people access our digital communications’; is too broad. Try to narrow down to the key issue – e.g. ‘We want to know how our emails to visually impaired customers are read - if the information is accessible, and shows a clear call to action’. If you need some help in defining this, we can of course assist with that. You can have two to three over-arching goals, and this is what we will continually refer back to in the research process to check that everything we do feeds directly into this. 

Provide the background

The more we know about the reasons behind the research, the better we can be at finding exactly what you need. Include a summary on how you got to this point, and why it’s important to your business. What are your motivations? Are there product failure points that need better understanding? Have you noticed poor market uptake from people with a particular disability? Is the requirement a response to regulator advice? Or do you simply want inclusivity to be part of your organisation’s everyday culture? 

Understand your customer base and their challenges 

The more you already know about your customer base, the better. Disability takes many forms, and there may be customers with hidden impairments that you’re not aware of. They may not even consider themselves disabled.  

The term disabled covers not only physical issues such as mobility, visual impairments and hearing but also mental health issues such as anxiety and cognitive disabilities such as autism and dyslexia. Your customers may face multiple challenges, as over 70% of disabled people live with more than one impairment.

The more we know about the challenges your customers face (such as navigating an app with a visual impairment) the more we can narrow our area of focus – looking for solutions as well as insights.  

However, if you are coming to this with little knowledge already, we can also help you to take a comprehensive view across disabilities. Our panel of over 2,000 people live with a range of different impairments, and we can incorporate these into your research. 

Give it Structure

Structuring your brief makes it more clear and easier to read. It may be the case that you would like to talk it through with us first before deciding on some of these areas - such as methodology - but it’s good to have a starting point. Here is a list of some example sections:

  •     Background info
  •     Introduction
  •     Aims and objectives
  •     Research Question(s)
  •     Methodology
  •     Issues / Risks
  •     Outputs and Timing
  •     Staff team
  •     Project Management
  •     Cost

Be proactive with including accessibility in your design process

It’s much easier to build accessibility into a product or service from early in the  design stage than go back later to try to adapt it. If you bring us in right at the beginning, we will need a much smaller sample to ensure accessibility. Designing for everyone right from the beginning will open your product or service up to a much larger customer base from the get-go. That’s not to say you can’t come to us once you have it up and running – we work with many clients in this way.  But if you are considering whether the time is now for your research – you are very welcome to give us a call and talk through the options. 

Get in touch with Eric to find out more