Cultural Fitness in the Usability of U.S. Census Internet Survey in Chinese Language

Lin Wang, Mandy Sha, Michelle Yuan


The U.S. Census Bureau in 2016 developed a testing version of the Internet data collection instrument for the 2020 Census in the Chinese language to assess its usability among those residents who can read and write in Chinese but have limited English proficiency. The purpose of this study was to characterize cultural- and linguistic-specific usability issues in the Chinese version and to propose recommendations for resolving those issues. Thirteen native Chinese speakers participated in this study. Each participant completed the Chinese version of the 2016 Census Test Internet Instrument alone using a laptop or a mobile device (a tablet or a smartphone). A test administrator (TA) used a think-aloud protocol while the participant was completing the Internet instrument, and then debriefed with the participant on his or her experience with the instrument. After reviewing the audio and video recordings and the TA’s observation and debriefing notes, we summarized the issues in four categories: sentence-level Chinese text presentation, word-level Chinese text presentation, data entry, and navigation. Based on these usability findings, we recommend that future Internet surveys tailor the programming to Chinese sentence structure and meaning (syntax and semantics) and that translation be adapted to fit the Internet survey context.


US Census; Survey; Culture; Usability; Language; Chinese

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