Email Accessibility: Making Sure Everyone Reads your Email Campaigns

Email Accessiblity

Vision impairment and blindness are far more serious problems than you might think. It’s estimated that there are about 285 million people all over the world who suffering from blindness and visual impairment. In Australia, about 357,000 people report problems seeing even with eyeglasses and/or contact lenses. This is a topical issue with the current lawsuit against Coles.

As far as emails and web usage are concerned, these issues impede the efficacy of getting your message across. Fortunately, you can enhance the accessibility of your campaigns sent via Enform’s Automailer with a number of practices designed for the vision-impaired and users relying on screen reading devices, and audio prompts.

Below are some of the basic requirements for email messages to be considered accessible.

Use Descriptive Subject Line

Sounds easy enough, but you’ll be surprised to know how many campaigns out there have subject lines that aren’t descriptive enough. The subject line is what draws readers to open the email, so it should descriptive and concise.

This is even more important to people with vision impairments, who rely on subject lines to see whether emails are worth opening up or not.

Consistent Logical Reading Order

HTML email newsletters are typically coded with tables, the most reliable method of building layouts compatible across desktop, webmail, and mobile email platforms. However, these tables have to be planned and built carefully, taking into account users relying on keyboard-only access, who might not read the content in the order intended. For example, screen readers go through tabular content from either left to right or top to bottom.

Use Code to Indicate Headings

HTMLT heading tags <table>, <body>, <h1> and the like are critical to ensuring screen readers understand content hierarchy in email messages. Simply styling text by changing the font and increasing font size won’t work with assistive devices.  These visual cues have to be coded into the text for screen readers to understand them.

Provide Obvious Contrast Between Text and Background Colours

Users with vision problems or colour blindness are less sensitive to colour contrasts and luminosity when reading images and text on emails, so it’s important to differentiate text, images, and background with the right colours and contrast. Colours should be chosen not just for aesthetic reasons, but for accessibility too.

You can choose from a number of applications to test emails for contrast and help integrate non-colour based cues for everyone to understand your messages.

For Images, Be Sure to Offer Text Alternatives

Again, screen readers rely on code to relay content to vision impaired users, so images that serve an aesthetic purpose (i.e. preserving layout) should contain null alt attributes (alt=””) to signal they should be ignored.

However, images that should inform screen readers, like company logos, should have alt text to notify their meaning to screen readers. Example below.

<img src=”enformlogo.png” alt=”Enform Automailer” />

Incorporating these steps into your campaigns isn’t difficult at all, and simply means taking an extra step to expand the reach of your email messages. Give them a try and your campaigns may just reach more people.