Accessibility Tip of the Week

You've got mail.

  • Summary: Avoid using images to convey important information and use other good accessibility practices when writing emails.
  • Who it helps: People with disabilities who are reading your emails.
  • Additional benefits: Helps your entire audience interact with your emails, especially those on mobile devices.

Despite the variety of social media platforms and online chat forums, email is still the predominant form of communication on the internet. It’s especially useful for announcing an event or activity. Emails are not just text. They often use HTML, CSS and images to stylize the content and make your messaging attractive. When designing your emails, make sure that your content is in stylized text and not just in the images. Doing so allows users of assistive technology to understand and interact with your content.

The trend of creating beautiful images with all the information included has led to a lot of inaccessible and also frustrating emails. You do not want your audience retyping your information instead of interacting with your content. Imagine how frustrating it would be if you couldn’t access or recreate that information at all. You would know an event was happening but not have any of the details.

Your audience might be using a phone, or in a situation where they need to use your address or navigate to your website. They may also be using assistive technology. Regardless of the reason, make sure your emails are both beautiful and accessible.

What can I do?

When sending out mass emails, use good accessibility practices.

  • Use images only as decoration or repeat all of the information in the image as text within the email.
  • Add alternative text to images to let blind individuals understand the image. Most email programs allow you to do this by opening the context menu associated with the image (right clicking).
  • Use text that describes links and add the url to them instead of including the url.
  • Make sure there is enough contrast between the text and background colors. Default colors in email programs typically have enough color contrast but if you start changing the colors, test them using a Colour Contrast Analyser.

This work is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0    .

If you are promoting accessibility within your organization or community, sending out easy-to-understand tips can be a helpful addition to your strategy. You are welcome to share the tips here under the mentioned Creative Commons license, as long as you cite Accessible Community as your source.