Article first published November 14, 2014. Updated January 2019.
Almost 20% of both Americans and Australians have some form of disability. In 2014, about 40,000 people aged 25 or younger were blind or partially sighted in the UK, with that number expected to exceed more than 2 million by 2020. In the US, blindness or vision impairment is among the top 10 disabilities among adults aged 18 years and older according to the CDC.
And yet within both the web and email communities, there’s little to no conversation around how we can make our messages accessible to everyone.
This is unusual for a number of reasons:
First of all, designing for accessibility—or quite simply, allowing as many people to read your message as possible—is the ethical thing to do.
Secondly, the number of people with vision impairments on many subscriber lists likely exceeds the number using email clients like Gmail.
Thirdly, there’s a tangible financial benefit to sending accessible messages, especially when sending to an older demographic that may be more prone to vision issues but may also have more disposable income.
And finally, designing for accessibility is often a requirement when dealing with government clients. In the US, Section 508 laws require that “agencies must give disabled employees and members of the public access to information that is comparable to access available to others.” Similar laws exist elsewhere.
Why aren’t more people designing for accessibility?
Despite these clear arguments, almost no time or resources are spent on testing email campaigns for accessibility. Why is this the case?
When talking to people about the reasons for not addressing accessibility issues when designing for email, the feedback is quite similar to what I’ve heard from the web design community.
Quite simply, while the W3C and others have done a fantastic job at developing Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), these haven’t been translated into best practices. This means designers struggle to not only internalize these guidelines, but it’s even more difficult to apply them to designers’ everyday work.
That’s why we teamed up with Vision Australia to create a Guide to Accessibility in Email Campaigns.
Master email accessibility during your coffee break
By joining forces with Vision Australia, we’ve translated years of work on the W3C’s guidelines with our experience consulting businesses and government agencies. Together, we’ve created 3 short chapters that address email design—and designers—specifically.
In only a few minutes, you’ll learn the fundamentals for designing accessible email campaigns, receive guidance on testing and tools, and receive a handy pre-flight checklist to ensure you’ve covered all your bases for every single email campaign.
And no, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to understand it all.
So, take a moment to up-skill today. You’ll not only learn about the unique requirements of vision impaired email subscribers, but in minutes, you’ll become the authority on how to design, test and send accessible email campaigns.