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Shining A Light on the Importance of Accessibility on Global Accessibility Awareness Day

By Julie Paci, strategic marketing manager, Pathwire

Global Accessibility Awareness Day takes place every year on the third Thursday of May. The holiday was created to focus on digital access and inclusion for the more than one billion people with disabilities and impairments. With COVID-19 accelerating digital transformation and reliance on email communication, it's more important than ever for marketers and email senders to make sure their messages are accessible to all that are interested. 

As a ubiquitous form of communication, businesses frequently send email messages to promote marketing offerings and offer support to customers and partners. However, a marketing email without accessibility options is essentially a ‘missed connection' for scores of people in the target audience.

Making content accessible for all users, regardless of ability, strangely is still a new concept online and in emails. The good news is that some companies are making it their mission to make the web accessible in the coming years. The bad news is that this means accessibility is, for many organizations, still too complicated and too poorly mastered.

By following best practices for design, content, and coding, however, it becomes much easier to create emails that will reach every member of an audience while also delivering valuable information and a great user experience.

1.     Content - For people who use text readers for email, accessible content depends on delivering descriptive information, from subject lines to links. Inviting recipients to click on ‘open me' or ‘click here' links, for instance, does not help accessibility but including descriptions as links does. Every paragraph should cover each particular subject in brief, remaining focused for people with dyslexia or other visual or language impairments.

2.     Design - In developing accessible email design, always follow a logical structure and reading direction, avoiding centered and justified paragraphs, and use fonts above size 14 with generous line spacing to make the reading experience as helpful as possible. Strong design contrast is also crucial as it helps make reading easier, particularly in poor lighting conditions. Buttons and links should be easy to access, colored with sufficient levels of contrast, and easy to click or tap.

3.     Coding - Among the main priorities for email coding should be to ensure that paragraphs are presented in organized sections and introduced by descriptive titles, making full use of the <p> and <h*> in particular. And by defining email language with the HTML lang attribute, text readers will correctly process content from the outset. Above all, try to offer the email content as a text version, a preference among many users who experience accessibility challenges. Many messaging platforms offer this facility as standard.

Email best practices cannot be achieved without focusing on accessibility throughout the key stages of the development process. In doing so, marketing teams help everyone enjoy the benefits of today's digital society, and brands can ensure their messages, offers, and incentives reach the widest possible relevant audience. That is a win-win for everyone involved.

Published Thursday, May 20, 2021 4:58 PM by David Marshall
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