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Usability and Accessibility Evaluation of the 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes and Motivators Survey (English online survey)

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Working Paper Number rsm2018-12


In an interdivisional project with the Census Bureau’s Communications Research and Analytics Team, the Center for Survey Measurement conducted usability testing of the internet version of the 2020 Census Barriers, Attitudes, and Motivators Survey (CBAMS). CBAMS is a self-administered mail and internet data collection survey that covers a range of topics related to respondents’ knowledge of and attitudes toward the 2020 Census. The purpose of the present study was to assess usability and cognitive problems with the English language version of the internet instrument. A separate study conducted usability testing of the CMABS online instrument translated into Spanish (i.e., Lykke and Trejo, 2018). For usability testing with the English version, one round was conducted with 10 participants.

Overall, testing found several usability issues. Numerical fields were too long for the requested input on all mobile devices. Half of the participants appeared to not notice the PIN number and its instructions to write it down. Another half of participants did not log off the survey during a log off exercise, because it was not clear whether the survey would automatically save its progress when logging out. Cognitive findings included participant confusion about how to respond to questions that referenced situations (such as living in Washington, D.C., or participating in the U.S. election) that did not apply to the participant. However, in terms of satisfaction, participants rated their overall experience completing CBAMS as extremely positive.


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