Introduction to Email Accessibility

Accessibility is a term most Americans are familiar with, with much credit to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The ADA, passed by Congress in 1990, is the nation's first comprehensive civil rights law addressing the needs of people with disabilities. It prohibits discrimination in employment, public services, public accommodations, and telecommunications. 

The term “accessibility” is often used in reference to providing wheelchair access to a facility.  It may also reference providing other types of accessibility, like interpreter services for the hearing impaired or programs to assist persons with special cognitive needs.  There are many types of accessibility.

So what is Email Accessibility?

Simply put, it is good email design to ensure someone with a visual impairment can read your email.  Have you ever considered whether you use a text color on top of a button color that makes the call to action on your button illegible for someone who is color blind? About 285 million people in the world live with a visual impairment.  

Much progress has been made in recent years to identify best practices for inclusive email design.

Here are some great resources if you want to learn more on the topic:

Email on Acid provides a number of great guidelines on good email design for accessibility, ranging from keeping a minimum font size of 14 points, to more technical recommendations for code development.

Litmus also offers a great list to help create emails with accessibility in mind.

Consider all readers when designing email templates.  Accessible formatting is not only an inclusive practice, it can lead to better-looking, more legible emails for everyone.