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Accessible Email: 13 Tips to Reach More Customers More Effectively

By Jim LaValle on Jun 21, 2024

Email is one of the most effective marketing channels, and it’s important to make it accessible to everyone including those with disabilities. After all, according to the CDC, up to 27% of United States adults suffer some kind of a disability. Website accessibility has been high profile for awhile now.

Email is accessible when it works with technologies that help those with disabilities. These technologies include screen readers, speech to text, keyboards (without the necessity of a mouse), screen magnifiers and more.

Why Should We Care About Email Accessibility?

1.    Legal Compliance: Laws like the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) mandate accessibility standards for digital communications. Accessibility isn’t just for websites.

2.    Broader Audience Reach: Accessible emails ensure that individuals with visual, auditory, cognitive and motor impairments can access and engage with your content. That means more customers!

3.    Enhanced User Experience: An accessible email campaign offers a better user experience for everyone, including those without disabilities.

4.    Positive Brand Image: Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility can enhance your brand’s reputation and help build customer loyalty.

Tips for Making Your Email More Accessibible

1. Test for Email Accessibility

Tools like WAVE and Axe can identify accessibility issues. Check out this list of 7 Best Email Accessibility Checkers to Use in 2024 from Mailmodo.

2. Provide Alt Text

Alt text describes the content of images for screen readers, ensuring visually impaired users understand the context. Make alt text concise yet descriptive.

3. Ensure Sufficient Color Contrast

Ensure that text has a high contrast ratio against its background. This makes it readable for users with visual impairments as well as others. Tools like the WCAG Color Contrast Checker can help you verify adequate contrast. It’s available many places including the Chrome Webstore.

4. Use Accessible Fonts

Select fonts that are easy to read. Sans-serif fonts like Arial, Verdana, Open Sans and Helvetica are considered accessible. Avoid using decorative script fonts and ensure the text size is sufficient, at least 12 point.

5. Create Descriptive Link Text

Link text should clearly describe the destination or action. Instead of “click here,” use descriptive phrases like “Download our brochure” or “Read more about our services.”

6. Structure Content

Organize content using a logical heading and subheading structure and short paragraphs. This helps screen reader users navigate through the email. Use headings to break up sections and make the content easier to scan.

7. Include a Plain Text Version

Always provide a plain text version of your email. This ensures that recipients using email clients that do not support HTML can still access your content.

8. Avoid Relying on Color Alone

Do not use color as the sole means of conveying important information. Many people are color-blind. Supplement color-coded messages with text labels or patterns.

9. Ensure Keyboard Accessibility

Make sure all elements, such as links and buttons, are accessible via keyboard. This benefits users with motor impairments who cannot use a mouse.

10. Test with Screen Readers

Regularly test your emails with screen readers for compatibility and accessibility. Examples of screen readers you may want to consider are  NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access) and VoiceOver.

11. Format for Email Accessibility

Organize your content so it is easily readable by the human eye and also so it can be easily read by screen readers. Using a single column design rather than multi-columns makes your text readable by screen readers and is also preferred for mobile devices.

Use white space and bullets to break up text and make it more readable.

12. Use Semantic HTML

Semantic HTML helps screen readers interpret and convey the structure and meaning of an email. Use appropriate tags, such as:

  • <h1> to <h6> for headings
  • <p> for paragraphs
  • <ul>, <ol>, and <li> for lists
  • <a> for links with descriptive text

13. Use Responsive Design

Make sure your email is mobile-friendly and adapt to different screen sizes. After all, 92.3% of Internet users access the internet using a mobile phone.

Are You Ready to Launch Accessible Email Campaigns?

For help with accessible email and for all your email marketing, contact Umbrella Local. Y To schedule a free consultation, go to our website or call (646)440-1426.


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