Diversity & Inclusion, Technology

Email Accessibility: How to Make Your Emails More Inclusive

When you create an email list, you probably manage and maintain your audience. By doing this, you ensure that you are retaining people who regularly engage with your emails and don’t waste time and energy on those who view your messages as spam. But, do you ever perform maintenance to ensure that your emails are accessible?

According to the World Health Organization, at least 2.2 billion people have a near or distance vision impairment. What does this mean for your audience and how you communicate with them? It is highly likely that your subscribers need accessible emails. And by dedicating your resources to test your emails for accessibility, you give a wider audience the chance to receive your messages in the medium that works for them. If you are not making your emails clear and readable, you are losing parts of your audience.

In a survey conducted by Pathwire, just over 80% of those surveyed claimed they’re considering email accessibility at least some of the time while 19% admitted they are not. If you haven’t already begun this journey of making your emails more accessible, don’t worry. There is no better time to begin than now.

Here are the most common steps marketers from that same report are using to make their emails more accessible:

56% write short descriptive subject lines.

54% make links and buttons easy to see.

50% keep paragraphs short and simple.

45% break up content with headings/subheadings.

44% select a simple font.

What these all have in common is they all relate to the usability of the email. Usability is how the user interacts with your email marketing. Making your messages clear and simple is an important way to ensure your audiences understand what you have to say. This can be especially beneficial if you have a call-to-action in your email campaign; for example if you want people to buy a product or to visit your website.

Easy-to-see links and buttons, short subject lines and paragraphs and simple fonts are all good starting points. However, as these are common tactics the majority of marketers already use, you may want to consider implementing more to distinguish your brand and to take into account all of your potential audience.

For the more nuanced yet simple practices, you should be implementing the following simple best practices:


By breaking up content with headings, you guide your readers where to look. This creates an effect that is easy on the eyes and creates natural pauses whether your audience is reading or listening to process your content. This can be helpful for readers who may have a need for more guidance, like those with dyslexia.

Headings are coded using what are known as <h> tags. This is a type of semantic HTML, which is important to accessible emails. People who are blind use screen reading software to access email. Headings provide an organized structure that helps blind subscribers navigate an email’s content when using a screen reader.

Color Contrast Compliance

While your brand may be focused on keeping your color palette within your style guidelines so people recognize your distinct content, you may want to check if there are any accessibility issues with your chosen aesthetic.

Only 35% of survey respondents said they were considering color contrast in their email design. For example, if all of your links are in blue, how will that affect those with difficulty seeing the color blue? To solve, simply make sure the linked text in emails gets underlined so it is identifiable as a link, despite color.

Alternative Text and Images

Before sending an email with images, ensure that you have offered your audience alternative text as a description of the photo or graphic. By taking a few moments to provide an explanation, you are assisting those who have screen reading software to interpret graphics. You are also covered in the instance the email fails to send the photo, so the text will be received instead.

While these are some of the easiest ways to incorporate accessibility into your emails, there are also ways to be more inclusive of other types of disabilities. For example, consider creating appropriately sized tap targets for those with physical limitations. Even linking an entire sentence to be clicked — instead of using a short link with click ‘here’ — is one easy way to do this.

In summary, it is important to consider accessibility not only as eye accessibility issues but to be all-encompassing to fit for any audience. According to a survey from “Accessibility in the Inbox,” most respondents did not account for cognitive load, hearing impairments, low motor control, autism or seizures when writing and designing emails. The highest ranking category trailing vision impairments, only 21% reported that they account for cognitive load. The numbers who claim to account for viewers with seizures bring the least-considered category to 5%. While statistics on those who need accommodations can vary based on disability, it is safe to say the more accessibility you have in your emails, the wider your audience will be and the better chance you have of your message resonating.

To see the full report “Accessibility in the Inbox,” you can download here.

The more accessibility you have in your emails, the wider your audience will be and the better chance you have of your message resonating.

Kasey Steinbrinck is a Sr. Content Marketing Manager for Pathwire, a Sinch Company. He understands how email and content work hand-in-hand to create a strong strategy. Kasey has also spent time working in traditional media, e-commerce marketing, and for a digital agency.

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