accessibility icon emerges from an email envelope

Email Accessibility Guide: Best Practices for Marketers

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Here’s why email accessibility matters …

Imagine that you open your inbox to find an email from one of your favorite brands. They’re offering 40% off specific t-shirts and you want to learn more. However, you have no way of finding out what the shirts look like because the images in the email don’t have alt text. You decide to go to the store’s website, but because all the buttons are also images without alt text, you have no idea where to click.

You see, you have vision impairment and are using a screen reader to consume the email.

Can you imagine how frustrating that would be? You’re excited about getting a new shirt on sale but can’t find the information you need to purchase. Not only does that brand lose your sale, but you’ll probably unsubscribe as well.

Here’s another scenario: You broke your arm and are trying to read a daily finance newsletter on your phone. This is part of your typical routine, but suddenly it’s a lot more difficult. You’re trying to use one hand and keep having to zoom in to read the small text — a nearly impossible task. Suddenly, your opinion of this publisher is declining, replaced with frustration.

Jump to a section in this article:

Watch a webinar on email accessibility

Hear from UX expert Elise Georgeson and email developer Anne Tomlin as they offer advice in this accessibility webinar from our Splat Fest virtual event.

Photos of Email Accessibility hosts for Splat Fest

Is email accessibility on your radar?

Email marketers should consider both of these scenarios as examples of what can happen if your emails are inaccessible. Email accessibility is about more than avoiding lawsuits or complying with regulations. It’s about helping real people read and interact with your emails. And in a time when nearly everything is done online — from banking and grocery shopping to communicating and learning — this is essential.

However, when Email on Acid partnered with Ascend2 to find out if marketers are working to make emails accessible, results showed that while more than half believe email accessibility is important, many still aren’t considering it at all.

email accessibility survey pie chart

Let’s take a deep dive into accessibility and see how you can turn your emails into richer, fuller experiences for everyone on your list.

Accessibility by the numbers

Over one billion people are estimated to live with some sort of disability. That’s approximately 15% of the world’s population. To break that down a little further:

  • At least 2.2 billion people worldwide have some level of vision impairment. About 217 million of those have moderate to severe vision difficulties.
  • Hearing impairment is the third most reported chronic problem among the aged population, but 65% of people with hearing loss are younger than retirement age.
  • Globally, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women experience some level of color blindness.
  • Around 5-10% of the global population is dyslexic.

So if your emails aren’t accessible, you’re providing a poor experience for a good chunk of your audience.

Why accessible emails support marketing strategy

One of your primary goals is to turn prospective consumers into paying customers or supporters. A good marketing strategy helps you achieve that goal.

But if your emails aren’t accessible, then your entire marketing strategy comes up short. Think about it: if 10% of your email list can’t consume your emails, then you might as well reduce your campaign results by that same percentage. 10% fewer subscribers. 10% fewer leads. 10% fewer sales.

7 reasons why email accessibility is good for business

1. It improves usability for everyone

Because human-centered design is at the core of accessibility, the changes you make — from color contrast to font sizes — will benefit every person on your list. They’ll all enjoy a more full, rich experience, which ultimately will increase your ROI.

2. It helps you reach more people

With accessible emails, you can reach everyone on your list, including those with permanent disabilities or temporary impairments. If your emails aren’t accessible, you’re automatically excluding a subset of your audience.

3. It increases both engagement and retention

If subscribers can’t read your email content or interact with your calls to action (CTAs), then they literally can’t engage with your emails. They also won’t be likely to stick around for future emails, either.

Find out more about how accessibility and email engagement are connected.

4. It minimizes your legal risk

In 2020, almost 11,000 accessibility-related federal lawsuits were filed, an increase of 23%. And that means there were likely thousands more unreported state lawsuits and demand letters with out-of-court settlements — a serious threat for any company not meeting the needs of their entire audience. And in one instance, Domino’s even petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to take up a case.

But shockwaves from a lawsuit reach far beyond the economic damage. Even if it doesn’t have merit, when customers hear about these cases, their opinion is diminished. If you’re not responsible with accessibility, what else are you letting slip through the cracks?

If your agency represents multiple brands, a lawsuit for one client could trigger reviews from others. Company reputations are fragile, and they won’t be eager to associate with an agency with a track record of legal issues.

All of this is another reason to stay ahead of bad publicity and court battles by ensuring all of your media is accessible.

5. It separates you from competitors

If someone gets two emails advertising a clothing sale — one they can read and interact with and the other that isn’t accessible — which email do you think they’ll click on? Even if they prefer your product over your competitor’s, they’ll almost certainly choose the competitor’s if they provide a much easier and informative experience.

6. It enhances your brand

Thinking about subscribers as people rather than just contacts in a database shows that you care about your customers and subscribers — period.

7. It helps you better represent your audience

Knowing your audience is at the heart of every good marketing strategy. By making your emails accessible to everyone, you’re speaking directly to their needs and showing that you understand their pain points. And, best of all, you’re avoiding someone’s conscious (or unconscious) impression that your company doesn’t represent them well.

Accessibility standards by industry

illustrated W3C icon on a globe

While there isn’t one, single law that requires companies to make their services accessible, there is one organization that wrote the book on the subject, quite literally.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international standards organization that created the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) — the go-to document for global accessibility standards.  

Accessible emails are important regardless of the products or services you promote, but some industries must follow specific laws and regulations:

Healthcare

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) states that “the law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, or disability in certain health programs or activities.” And the Rehabilitation Act requires “equal access to electronic information and data comparable to those who do not have disabilities (…).”

Hotel industry

Accommodation service providers must render services compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The WCAG is the go-to resource for the hotel industry.

Government organizations

For government entities, accessibility guidelines are established in Sections 504/508 of the ADA. These sections prohibit discrimination based on disabilities and regulate fair access to electronic information. The government refers to WCAG 2.0 for its internal accessibility policies, so you can safely use that document for guidance or find specific recommendations here.

Finance

Financial organizations must adhere to the guidelines set forth by the WCAG as well as the ADA. You can safely refer to these documents for guidance.

Get more information on accessibility standards by industry.

Email accessibility: Conditions to consider

When you focus on accessibility, you’re accommodating a variety of disabilities and impairments. Here’s a list of disability types, along with a few ways that you can accommodate each when building your emails:

ear icon

Auditory

Those who are deaf or hard of hearing. Someone with an auditory disability might have trouble with the volume of sound, frequency of sound, or phantom noises (called tinnitus). In your emails, consider things like video captions and podcast transcripts.

neurological icon

Cognitive

People with mental limitations that affect memory, problem-solving, attention, or comprehension. When building emails, use simple presentation, avoid technical language, include clear instructions when necessary, and steer clear of distracting animation.

brain icon

Neurological

People with diseases that affect the central and peripheral nervous system — brain, spinal cord, cranial nerves, etc. This includes things like strokes, epilepsy, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and brain tumors.

Make sure your email is easy to navigate, break up text into smaller sections, and avoid precise actions that would be difficult for someone with tremors or who is using a mouth stick.

hand icon

Physical

Those who have weakness or limitations of motor control. This includes tremors, lack of coordination, paralysis, joint disorders like arthritis, and missing limbs. Ensure that your email can be easily consumed with keyboard navigation and screen readers.

speech bubble icon

Speech

This includes people who are unable to produce speech that is recognizable by others or by software. Muteness and stuttering are just two examples here. Include options in your email to get in touch beyond a phone call, like a contact form, live chatbox, or email.

eyeball icon

Visual

Those with vision loss or sensitivity to color or brightness. Provide enough color contrast in your emails, ensure that they’re compatible with screen readers, and make font sizes large enough to easily read.

Temporary impairments and environmental considerations

temporary injury icon

This includes a wide range of factors that temporarily make it difficult for people to consume your emails: broken arms, missing glasses, slow internet speeds, using a mobile phone in the sun, watching video without sound in a public space, or even using Alexa or Siri.

Remember, the same people that easily consume your content now might have eye surgery or carpal tunnel in a few weeks.

Email accessibility best practices

The best time to consider email accessibility is from the very beginning. Incorporate it into every aspect of your process — from ideation to copywriting to design — for the best, human-centered results.

Let’s take a look at some actionable steps you can take to improve the accessibility of your emails.

Understanding screen readers

Screen readers are tools that allow those with visual impairments or cognitive disabilities to read the text and images on their computer screen. When someone consumes your email, a screen reader will vocalize the content based on how it’s coded, reading both the structure and elements on the page aloud.

It’s important to note that screen readers present content to users one item at a time, which is completely different from the way we visually consume emails. While sighted subscribers can get the gist of email content and design all at once, those with screen readers progress through the email in steps.

They can, however, navigate more quickly through content using headings, page sections, paragraphs, and “skip navigation” links. These key differences are why it’s so important that your email structure and content are designed specifically with screen readers in mind. 

Here are a few other ways that screen readers consume content:

  • They pause for things like periods, semi-colons, and commas.
  • They try to pronounce acronyms but otherwise will spell out the letters.
  • They announce the page title when loading a page or email.
  • They announce headings and the heading level. e.g. “heading level 2.”

Watch: How a screen reader reads an email

For even more details about screen readers, check out this resource from WebAIM. Or, learn about how people can use virtual assistants like Alexa to consume content.

Email accessibility and design

Here are a few things that you should consider (along with actionable steps!) when designing accessible emails:

Write accessible subject lines and preheaders

Your subject line is the gateway to your email and — even more so for those using a screen reader — is an indication of relevance to your subscribers. Be as descriptive as possible, so people can quickly know whether or not the content applies to them. Avoid jargon and technical terms that might be confusing, along with abbreviations that could be misunderstood by screen readers.

It’s also helpful to understand how voice readers like Siri and Alexa read through an email inbox. When someone asks to check their email, Alexa says something like:

For John, from the last 24 hours you have X unread emails, X marked important. The first [important] email is from [sender], [subject]. Do you want to [read, reply, delete, archive or next]?

Siri will say something along the lines of:

[Sender] sent you an email about [subject]. It says [preheader]. Would you like to reply?

Stick to the same guidelines for clarity when it comes to preheaders. Siri will read the first 499 characters of your email, which includes your preheader (yes, even if it’s hidden!). If your preheader is too short, it will move on to the next part of your email, which can often be confusing for subscribers. This means that you may need to extend your preheader so you have complete control over what is read. Check out our experiment with Siri and email preheader text to hear the difference it makes and get code snippets to help with email accessibility.

Watch: How Siri reads email preheader text

Avoid image-only emails

While it’s often easy just to upload an image for your email, especially if you’ve already created a graphic, this can be very difficult from an accessibility standpoint. Screen readers can’t discern the content of an image; they rely on alt text to explain the picture. And, if an entire email is one image, then it would be very difficult to appropriately describe it within alt text.

Plus, if your CTA is inside the image, voice and screen readers won’t be able to discern it. This, of course, decreases engagement.

Use appropriate color contrast

The contrast ratio is the difference between the background color and foreground color, which is critical for people with vision impairments. This typically pertains to text layered on top of an image or background but also applies to graphics.

Color contrast examples

A 1:1 ratio has very little contrast (think of white text on a white background) while 21:1 has large contrast (black text on white background). WCAG’s standards require a minimum contrast ratio of 4.5:1 for standard-sized text. For text larger than 23px or bold text larger than 18px, the ratio should be 3:1.

Acid tip: Email on Acid’s Campaign Precheck accessibility feature automatically checks color contrast for you, so you don’t have to worry about calculating ratios.

Use appropriate font sizes

The smaller the font, the harder it is to read, whether someone is partially blind, isn’t wearing their glasses, or is trying to read on their phone in the bright sun. A good rule of thumb is that fonts should be at least 14px in size. However, because fonts vary so much, yours might need to be even larger, especially if you’re using a lightweight option.

Adjust your typography and layout

Most of the typography and layout considerations for accessibility are just good design practices that you should already be implementing in each and every email that you send.

5 tips for accessible email copy

1. Choose legible fonts: Not all fonts are created equal — nor are they always easy to read. Decorative, quirky, or handwritten fonts are often challenging for anyone to consume.

2. Space your fonts appropriately: Even the most legible font can be challenging to read if the letters or lines of text are too close together. Adjust the kerning and leading of your fonts so they’re as easy to read as possible.

3. Maintain a logical reading structure: Screen readers typically read from left to right before moving to the next line. Stick with this intuitive structure for the best results.

Note: There are languages and writing systems in which text is read right-to-left, such as Hebrew, Urdu, Farsi, and other Arabic scripts. Many East Asian writing systems follow a vertical reading pattern.

4. Avoid center-aligned paragraphs: It’s much harder for people with dyslexia to read center-aligned paragraphs, so even if you think it looks better, stick to left-aligning your text.

5. Use enough white space: Don’t cram all of your design elements — images, text, graphics, etc. — too close together. Instead, allow for plenty of white space around them so people can more easily discern each one.

Write copy that’s easy to read

If your content is accessible, it’s also much easier for all of your subscribers to consume. Focus on:

  • Readability: Stick to writing at an eighth-grade reading level, which will allow for around 85% of the general population to easily understand your content.
  • Consistency: Use the same terms to describe the same things. For example, if you refer to an action as “edit,” don’t call it “change” later in your email.
  • Defined: If there’s a chance someone won’t know what a word or phrase means, take the time to define it.
  • Easily digestible: Write short paragraphs and break up blocks of text with headers and bullet points. This makes content both easier to read and skim.

For an even more comprehensive dive into accessible content, check out this guide from UX Collective. And view our email accessibility infographic for additional tips.

Make links accessible

If someone is colorblind, and you distinguish a link from the rest of your text solely using color, then they won’t be able to tell a difference. This means that all of your links and calls to action essentially don’t exist for them. Instead, bold or underline your links, or even add a symbol so that they stand out more.

You also want each link to stand on its own, so it’s distinguishable from the others. So, don’t use link text like “click here” and “learn more” — these can be confusing when screen readers say them out loud. Instead, use text like, “read our full guide to coffee roasts” or “learn more about how solar power works.”

Don’t forget about dark mode

dark mode for accessibility

Dark mode is a display setting that essentially inverts colors. Rather than seeing dark text on a light screen, a subscriber who turns on dark mode will see light text on a dark screen. The idea here is that this reduces the light emitted from screens while still being readable.

But, that can kind of throw a wrench into color contrast.

We decided to run a few experiments to see if accessible emails naturally work well in dark mode, too. The conclusion? Sometimes. Check out our full findings to learn more about how to adjust your emails for dark mode.

When it comes down to it, there are both benefits and downsides to dark mode, and this can affect your subscribers in different ways. For example, dark mode can be easier for those who are partially sighted to use, while nearly impossible for those with astigmatism. This is when knowing your audience is particularly helpful but, if possible, try to optimize all of your emails for both dark and light modes.

Email accessibility and code

Email accessibility coding

Accessibility is about more than just design. The code that you use in the setup and structure of your emails also affects how easily screen readers, keyboard navigation tools, and, ultimately, people with disabilities can consume your emails.

But how can you use code to make emails more accessible and what elements should you modify?

Semantic markup

Semantic markup is a simple code fix that’s easily overlooked. Use header (<h1>) and paragraph (<p>) tags, so that screen readers can differentiate between headers and paragraph text. This makes content easier to digest and provides a more enjoyable experience for subscribers.

Set the language attribute

By setting the language attribute of your email, you’re letting screen readers know how they should pronounce or display your content. Otherwise, they’ll read in their default device language, which can sometimes be confusing or hard to understand.

Set your language attribute with the two letters that correlate to the language your email is written in — e.g. lang=”en” for English. Here’s a list of language codes you can use if you’re not quite sure.

Or, if you’re using Email on Acid’s accessibility tool, simply choose the language from a dropdown menu and we’ll take care of this for you automatically. How’s that for service?

Set an email title

The <title> tag sets the title on the tab of a webpage when someone views your email in their browser. It also provides additional context for people using screen readers.

Pro tip: Email on Acid’s Campaign Precheck accessibility toolsets all the title tags for you, so you don’t have to give them a second thought.

Write thoughtful alt text for your images

Screen readers use alt text to vocalize the content of an image since they can’t “read” the image itself. Not only is alt text the only way for those with vision disabilities to consume your visual content, but it’s also used in cases of image blocking, like with Outlook. Therefore, good alt text is important for absolutely every email.

We recommend involving your copywriting team in the process of creating alt text. Why? Because it’s about more than just writing a couple of words about the picture. While you do want to be concise, your alt text should also be as descriptive as possible. Remember, you want to help those with vision disabilities “see” your image as clearly as possible. And good copywriters excel at including important information in very few words.

Let’s say that you’re crafting a promotional email for a new line of t-shirts. Instead of writing something like, “white t-shirt with lighthouse design,” be as descriptive as possible. Here’s one option:

Men’s white, loose-fitting, cotton t-shirt with black line illustration showcasing a lighthouse on the beach and the words “Cobbles Classic”

Not only does this alt text help someone envision the image more clearly, it also makes the product seem a lot more appealing. If the alt text was all the information you had about the product, which would you rather purchase? 

Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

  • Use different alt text for each image, even if the images are similar. Imagine how confusing it would be to someone using a screen reader if all the pictures sounded exactly the same.
  • Don’t add title text in addition to alt text. Most screen readers will read both the title text and alt text, which doesn’t provide an ideal listening experience.
  • Use empty alt text when appropriate. If your image strictly serves a design purpose (like a swirl, pattern, or shadow) then alt text may not be necessary. However, make sure to add an empty alt=”” to the image so screen readers know to skip over it.

Finally, make sure to style your alt text as well. This allows you to adjust the font color, size, and background color to provide a better experience when email clients block images. Here’s an example:

<img src=".../image.jpg" width="300" height="300" alt="Get 30% off today!" style="font-size: 18px; line-height:20px; background-color:#987654; color:#ffffff;" />

This sets the font size to 18px, the line height to 20px, the background color to brown, and the font color to white. But with Campaign Precheck, you won’t need to worry about code for any of your alt text; you can just go through your images, add your text, and we’ll take care of the rest.

Optimize for keyboard navigation

Many people with motor disabilities and visual impairments rely on a traditional or modified keyboard to navigate their emails. So, this is another critical consideration for accessibility. Here are a few accommodations you should make:

Don’t remove :focus indicators: A keyboard user typically presses the “tab” button to navigate through elements in an email: links, buttons, etc. When someone tabs over an element, using a :focus selector in the CSS provides a visual cue — like an outline — so they know what they’re focused on.

While some browsers and email clients add these by default, they’re not always the most user-friendly. Consider adding your own, so you can adjust things like color contrast, brand colors, and consistency. Keep in mind, many email clients do not support the :focus selector. But subscribers who need it for email accessibility are more likely to use email clients with support for it. Campaign Monitor has a list of email clients that do/don’t support the :focus selector.

Learn more and see some great examples from Deque.

Add a skip navigation link: Sighted mouse users can easily scan your email and click on any item they’d like, while keyboard users must press a button to navigate through every element. If your email is long, this can be a time-consuming hassle! But with a skip navigation link, you create a function at the top of your email that takes users right to the main part of your content, providing a much better experience.

To skip part of an email, try using an internal anchor:

<a href="#body">Skip to body text</a>

With this placed right before the body text in the email.

<a name="body"></a> 

You could try using semantic HTML5 elements instead of divs. Semantic HTML better defines sections of your email, like headers and paragraphs. This makes it much easier for keyboard navigators to quickly jump from section to section.

However, it’s worth mentioning that many email developers avoid using HTML5 elements because styling them is not respected by all email clients. For example, if you do use semantic elements, you’ll need to use ghost tables for Outlook. That could be a lot of extra work, so you must decide if it’s worth the effort based on the email clients your list uses.

What is ARIA and how does it work?

ARIA, or Accessible Rich Internet Applications, is a web spec created by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) to add descriptive information to HTML elements. The goal of ARIA is to, ultimately, improve the experience of those using screen readers.

Note: ARIA doesn’t affect how your email looks; it’s just a descriptive layer that you can wrap onto your code.

Here are some ways you can use ARIA to improve your email accessibility:

Set presentation roles

Setting table roles to “presentation” enables screen readers to read your email in a way that makes sense to subscribers. Without this, it will interpret the table as data and read out the HTML code.

To do this, simply add the following code to each table:

role="presentation"

In context, this will look like:

<table width="100%" border="0" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0" style="min-width: 100%;" role="presentation">

Or, if you’re using Email on Acid’s Campaign Precheck, this will be done for you automatically.

Watch: How it sounds without presentation roles:

Set button roles

Setting proper roles tells a screen reader that an element is a button and can be interacted with. To do this, add the following to each button:

role="button"

In context, this will look like:

<div id="getMug" tabindex="0" role="button" aria-pressed="false">Get Your Free Mug!</div>

The tabindex attribute (used above) is helpful for keyboard navigation to allow focus on something besides a link or form element. Find out more about this attribute from WebAIM.org.

For a deeper dive into ARIA tags and even more examples, read this guide from W3C.

Tools and resources for creating accessible emails

Want to learn more information and take actionable steps towards more accessible emails? We’ve put together a list of resources that will help you and your team.

Simplify email accessibility with Email on Acid

The easiest place to start is with Email on Acid’s Accessibility tools. That eliminates the need to manually check every piece of code and design element for accessibility concerns — it does that for you! It automatically adjusts your code, so there’s no more time-consuming back and forth between your email team and your developer.

It also includes email validation against the most important accessibility guidelines — like link design, alt text, title attributes, and presentation roles — and identifies issues that you can fix in just a few clicks. No coding knowledge required!

Email accessibility tool

Plus, the contrast ratio function takes all of the guesswork out of complicated contrast calculations, so you know right away if you need to edit any graphics or change any font colors.

As the only tool that automatically makes ADA-compliant adjustments to your email HTML at the click of a button, Email on Acid sets you up for success.

More accessibility testing tools

The best way to understand your subscribers’ experience is to test your emails for accessibility. We highly recommend downloading a screen reader and consuming your email content, as well as navigating your emails solely using your keyboard. Here are a few tools that can help:

Learn more about accessibility

To dive even deeper into accessibility and understanding disabilities, check out these valuable resources:

Becoming an empathetic email marketer

Email accessibility is about more than just avoiding lawsuits and increasing your ROI (although it helps with those things, too.) It’s about stepping into your subscribers’ shoes, considering how they consume your emails, and providing the best possible experience for them. This helps you form a better connection with them, and it contributes to a richer, more inclusive world. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?

Here are a few next steps you can take:

Manually test for email accessibility factors

Download a screen reader. Use Alexa or Siri. Try navigating your emails with keyboard navigation. Take the time to truly understand exactly what your subscribers experience. We’ve included a great list of tools above to help with this.

Test your emails with real people

User testing is the absolute best way to ensure that your emails are accessible. Working with real people who have impairments will help you identify problems that automated tools can miss and ask questions about their daily lives.

Approach subscribers as humans first

The people on your email list aren’t just numbers, sales, or leads — they’re real people. Keep this in mind as you design, build, and write your email campaigns so you can provide a full, inclusive experience for them.

Show empathy and kindness towards people

Actively work towards understanding the pain points of your audience, whether they have a permanent disability or are going through a temporary crisis. Find out what they’re dealing with and figure out ways you can help. Ask questions and avoid assumptions. Deque provides a great video library that gets you started.

Don’t wait until you get complaints or unsubscribes to optimize your emails for accessibility. Incorporate these principles into every aspect from the very beginning and you’ll have a much happier, cared for, included audience. And, when it comes down to it, happier subscribers engage more, buy more, and keep coming back time and time again. Ready to take the first steps? Get started with Email on Acid.

Boost ROI with Accessible Emails!

People all over the world live with visual impairments. How many of them are on your list? Can they read and act on your email campaigns? Email Accessibility is about more than just improving your reach. It shows empathy for every subscriber. Use Email on Acid to check accessibility before you hit send.

Try Campaign Precheck Free

Author: Elise Georgeson

Elise is the all-star Product Designer here at Email on Acid. Hailing from Milwaukee, when she’s not optimizing user experiences you can find her running marathons and exploring the great outdoors with her husband and kids.

Author: Elise Georgeson

Elise is the all-star Product Designer here at Email on Acid. Hailing from Milwaukee, when she’s not optimizing user experiences you can find her running marathons and exploring the great outdoors with her husband and kids.

16 thoughts on “Email Accessibility Guide: Best Practices for Marketers”

  1. Hi Alex. Great article! Don’t forget to insert style=”margin:0;” inside the opening semantic tags, to prevent email and webmail clients bloating the space around the headline and subheadings in particular. This is a key reason why developers have avoided using them in the past, and one that I sought to find a solution for in my work on accessible email, resulting in my discovery of this technique. Type E: 04. The Accessibility Issue outlines this technique in more detail: http://createsend.com/t/d-ABFFF5F25EC93A19.

  2. Hi Alex,

    Great article! Do you have any additional sources on not setting titles on links? We’re developing some internal best practices and I’d love to cit a few sources for this information.

    Cheers,
    Carolyn

  3. Will providing a plain text alternative get the user past most of the screen reader problems that aria attributes would normally solve?

  4. @Ryan K

    We always recommend including a plain text alternative, but it all depends on what the subscriber has set their inbox to receive.

    Great Question!

  5. Hi,

    I’ve started building our emails with accessibility considerations.

    However, I’m not sure what’s the best approach to handle “terms and conditions” or fine prints.

    Just to give it some context. We normally have these long terms and conditions at the bottom of the email but I’m not sure if I should be using tags or just plain text (with Double to handle paragraphing) and also, because it’s a top-down fashion, there would be no issues with hierarchy and importance, it should get past screen readers okay, I presumed.

    Any thoughts, anyone?

  6. Awesome write up. In the world of email not everything is cut and dry, so having extra information like this around is fantastic.

  7. On some other blogs on email accessibility, I’ve read that it’s recommended to use heading tags (h1, h2, h3…) to make email content scannable. This makes sense in the context of a standalone web experience but given that emails are always read within another application that potentially has its own content hierarchy, I wonder if adding in headings may actually cause the opposite effect. Would you make the recommendation to add heading tags?

    1. Hello Marie. Thanks for reading our blog. From what I understand from my coders, if there are multiple H1 tags the screen reader will scan them out of context, so depending on the application and your ESP, you may run into the problem you’re suggesting. My coders also suggested checking out some accessibility articles on how to handle this issue. Penn State has one on Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3, P) in HTML that is very helpful. Hope this gives you the information you need. Happy coding!

  8. Suppose if any hyperlink is present in a line, then Screen Reader is reading the content present after the hyperlinked text. To make the initial content readable, we need to click the individual text. Do there is any fix for this… so it will read whole content…with link, before link, after link.

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