Accessibility Resource Guide: Mass Email

Mass email accessibility

Not everyone uses mass email services, but nearly everyone does use email, including people with disabilities. Whether you’re sending a highly polished marketing communication to tens of thousands of people or an important communication to students in a particular class, it is important to pay close attention to the accessibility of your email.

Accessible HTML email templates

If you use a service like MyEmma, MailChimp, or a similar solution for creating a more designed experience for mass emails, you must make sure your template is accessible. Depending on the service you use, you should be able to search for accessible templates and find one that will meet your needs. If you are developing your own template, keep in mind that University policy requires that your template meets or exceeds WCAG 2.0 AA guidelines

You can request that OIT evaluate your template for accessibility by creating a ticket in the Technology Help Center.

Platform accessibility

The platform you are using to manage your HTML emails should have instructions and tips for creating more accessible emails. If it does not, then contact the vendor and make sure it is possible to create a template using their service that conforms to WCAG 2.0 AA. If it does not, you will need to find a new vendor that will work towards that level of accessibility conformance. 

Images of content

After you design a great email campaign, it may be tempting to use an image file like a .jpg file to display your entire email. On the surface, this seems like a quick and easy solution to sending a beautifully designed email. However, images with text (especially the entire email) are difficult to make accessible. People with low vision who need to enlarge text will enlarge the image, but it will become increasingly blurry. People without vision who use a screen reader will not hear a clear description of the image and may miss any interactive content like links and buttons that are part of the image.  

Beyond accessibility concerns, if the link for your image is broken, no one will be able to see your content. If someone is viewing your email on a mobile device, the image will not “respond” the way a well-formed HTML would so it may be difficult to read for everyone. 

Web accessibility equals email accessibility

The same rules for web accessibility apply to emails. The same basic principles that apply include: 

  • Provide alternative text for images (including the Ohio University logo in your signature) 

  • Use descriptive links 

    • Avoid “click here or read more” 

    • Look for keywords or phrases that make sense to the destination of the link 

  • Make sure videos have accurate captions 

  • Make sure there is enough color contrast 

  • Use plain language 

  • Use headings correctly

    • Use the text editor to designate text as a heading, not just styles 

Check accessibility

Your email service should provide a way to check accessibility before sending your message. If it does not, you will need to discuss this with your vendor representative. You can also check accessibility by going to the web version of your email and running a web accessibility checker on it. There are several great web accessibility checkers that you can use (these links are for Chrome extensions; you can search for these or similar extensions for your browser): 

  • Outlook Accessibility (For Mac on the desktop, you can check accessibility when you create a new message by choosing Edit on the Outlook ribbon, and then choosing “Check Accessibility”). 

  • WAVE from Web AIM 

  • SiteImprove Accessibility Checker 

  • Lighthouse in Chrome developer tools

Additional resources

Get help

Was this helpful?
0 reviews


Article ID: 528
Mon 9/19/22 3:09 PM
Fri 10/28/22 8:35 AM