Create accessible emails with these tips
Web accessibility is the inclusive practice of ensuring that there are no barriers preventing people with disabilities from using websites.
Accessible content can be used by all members of the Elon University community, including students, faculty and staff with a diverse range of hearing, movement, vision and cognitive abilities. Practicing accessibility is a shared responsibility for everyone at Elon who creates, shares or publishes digital resources, including emails. Implementing accessibility standards is essential for people with disabilities, and often benefits all users.
Follow these tips for creating emails to more effectively reach diverse audiences. For those who manage department websites at Elon – these tips also apply to web-based content.
If images, graphics or colors don’t load, will your email relay the same content through text? Do not rely solely on images to convey your message. Images containing important information require the addition of a text alternative.
Type out text from graphics. If you’re embedding an image of an event flyer, be sure to also include the event’s details as text in the body of the email. Not only is this good practice for screen reader users, it also allows users to copy event details to their calendars.
Use alt text. Add alternative (alt) text tags to describe images in your email. Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen understand what’s important in images and other visuals. In Outlook, right-click the image and select “Edit Alt Text” to add alternative text. Keep descriptions specific and simple, avoiding phrases like “image of” or “photo of.”
Your font and color choices can make the difference between an email that is readable and one that can’t be accessed by all users. Follow these tips to reach the widest audience, and whenever possible, write using plain language.
Ensure good color contrast. Black text on a white background is always a safe bet, but you can use the WebAIM Color Contrast Checker to find other accessible color combinations.
Emphasize accessibly. Don’t rely solely on color to highlight information, and avoid underlining text as doing so will make content look like links.
Choose appropriate fonts. Choosing Calibri, Myriad, Verdana or other sans-serif fonts that are easily legible will benefit more users. Also, avoid using cursive or ornate decorative fonts.
It’s common to link to other resources from emails. Here are a couple of best practices to keep in mind when creating hyperlinks.
Use descriptive language in hyperlinks. Avoid non-informative link language like “click here” and instead, clearly define where a link will take a user.
Share accessible resources. Ensure that linked resources are accessible. If linking to a video, check that captions or a transcript are provided.
Creating content with proper formatting makes it easier to access for people using assistive technology.
Organize with headings. If you’re creating an HTML newsletter, using headings such as <h1> and <h2> to identify different sections of your content can be helpful. Just make sure you’re using headings in the proper context to organize information, not just for appearances.
Use the right elements. A section of heavy text in an email, document or website can discourage reading. If your content includes a list, make it an HTML bulleted list or numbered list.
- Make your Word documents accessible to people with disabilities – Microsoft Support
- Create accessible PDFs – Microsoft Support
- Add alternative text to a shape, picture, chart, SmartArt graphic or other object – Microsoft Support
- Color Contrast Checker – WebAIM