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Digital Accessibility: 7 Guidelines for Accessible Mailing List Emails

This document covers 7 key guidelines to consider when you draft emails for wide distribution on mailing lists like

For more information about accessibility best practices, visit the Access @ Rice Guides.

  1. Create precise subject lines so readers understand what the email is about.
    • Avoid ALL CAPS.
    • Avoid unnecessary punctuation.
    • Good subject lines improve searching.

  2. Include all information as text in the body of your email.
    • Use sans-serif fonts between 12-pt and 16-pt for the body.
    • Use plenty of white space to break up blocks of text.
    • Avoid ALL CAPS.
    • It’s okay to use images, but avoid embedding text in images like graphic flyers and scans. Do not just attach a .pdf file. See also Digital Accessibility: Make PDFs More Accessible
    • Revise text so readability is at the early high school level.

  3. Style your text to create semantic structure.
    • Create hierarchy and reading order that is understood visually and by screen readers like JAWS and NVDA.
    • Use heading styles rather than just increasing the font size and applying bold style.
    • Use list formatting rather than just paragraph breaks and/or dashes.

  4. Use concise text to describe where hyperlinks go.
    • Avoid pasting full URLs.
    • Avoid non-descriptive words/phrases like “click here” and “more.”
    • Instead of just “Register,” use “Register for [workshop title].”
    • Alt text of linked images should describe the link, not the image.

  5. Create substantial color contrast between foreground text and background.
    • Use integrated and free third-party tools to calculate contrast ratios.
    • Avoid backgrounds with images, patterns, and bold colors.
    • Avoid using color to communicate meaning/importance.

  6. Create text descriptions (alt text) for all graphic elements like images and charts.
    • Be concise and equivalent.
    • If the information is complex (i.e. charts and graphs), consider describing it in an adjacent paragraph or caption.
    • Only if the image contains no important information, mark it as decorative with empty double quotations like so: alt=“”.
    • Improves Searching.

  7. Review and test your email.
    • Use integrated and free third-party scanning tools.
    • Check across multiple devices.
    • Use a free screen reader utility to test.

Keywordsa11y, email, mailing list, accessibility, subject line, alt text, descriptive links, semantic structure, headings, lists, color contrast   Doc ID94658
OwnerTrisha W.GroupRice U
Created2019-09-24 14:42:29Updated2023-05-08 14:07:50
SitesRice University
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