Accessible Emails

Emails follow the same WCAG guidelines and accessibility best practices that other digital communications are subject to. Here's a few tips on creating accessible emails that will reach the widest audience possible.

The Basics

There are a few considerations to think about when writing an accessible email:

  1. What technology will be used to read the message? Emails are more than just a message. They are presented as push notifications, read on phones, and by assistive technologies.
  2. What if images/colors do not load? Assume that your images won't load. Can the message still relay the same content through text? Do not rely solely on images to convey content.
  3. Can this email be scanned quickly? Is the email structured using proper headings and typography so that it is easy to read?

Guidelines

Many accessibility best practices for digital and web content apply to email content. Here are a few to think about when writing emails:

  1. Use alt text. If you have an image in your email, make sure it is adequately described with alt text. If you cannot add alt text, be sure to describe the image using a caption.
  2. Use plain language. Avoid jargon and link text that includes "click here" or "learn more." Make it clear where a link will take a user.
  3. Use the right elements. If you are using a list, use an HTML bulleted list or numbered list. Avoid using breaklines unnecessarily.
  4. Closed captioning for videos. If you are sending a link to a video, please make sure that those videos provide closed captioning or a transcript.

Step by Step

The majority of accessibility issues pertaining to emails are related to the posting of flyers or posters without sufficient text to describe them. For example:

Sent on its own, this will violate the accessibility policy because it provides content to sighted users that is not available to non-sighted users. In addition, because of the small size of the text, it is difficult to read for sighted users as well.

An accessible email might look like this:


  

Mass of the Holy Spirit

Wednesday, September 27th
12:00 PM
Mission Church

Followed by a community lunch.

The Mass of the Holy Spirit is a longstanding tradition in Catholic universities. People of all faiths are welcome to gather as we ask for God's blessing on this academic year. We honor the diversity of belief within our community and welcome one and all to find a sacred space at this Catholic liturgy.

In accordance with the ADA/504, please submit all accommodation requests to Sarah Bonini at (408) 554-4872 at least 48 hours prior to the event.


A Step Further

With the text extracted from the image, you are now able to change the design of the email itself. Here are a few design improvements you could make:

  1. Use a more impactful image without detail text. Since the text is below, you can use a bigger and more impactful image without the redundancy.
  2. Include RSVP, event calendar, or other links. Because hyperlinks can be added to text, use the opportunity to include interactivity. Link to a speaker's biography, link a location to the campus map, or collect RSVPs directly from the email.