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Re: Accessibility for email newsletters sent in HTML format


From: Jared Smith
Date: Oct 13, 2006 2:20PM

Maggie Thomson wrote:
> Hi
> I am investigating accessibility issues regarding distribution of email
> newsletters in HTML format.

Here's what we do with our newsletter - http://webaim.org/newsletter This
is by no means best practice, but it has worked well. We provide an option
for text or HTML versions. The HTML-encoded e-mail actually has the text
version embedded within it, so if the user's e-mail client preferences are
for text, the user sees the text version instead, even if they receive the
HTML version. This does add to the size of the HTML e-mail, but for
accessibility, we feel it is important.

Yes, the same accessibility requirements of standard web pages will apply
to HTML e-mail, though you have to recognize that much of that
accessibility will not be apparent to screen reader users in their e-mail
client anyways. And some clients, like GMail, will strip out most of it
(including most styles) anyways. We've found it best to keep a fairly
simple, semantically structured HTML e-mail that uses simple, embedded CSS
for basic visual styling.

We also provide a web-based version of the HTML e-mail so users can access
it online and get the full accessibility functionality of their assistive

The TEN standard (well, I don't know if it's really a standard, probably
more of a recommendation) is one method for marking up text-only e-mails. I
personally feel that the TEN markup may introduce an unnecessary cognitive
load for users. Users must also be familiar with the markup for it to make
a lot of sense. We use simple designations to mark up headers and sections
that seem to provide structure and visual rendering in most e-mail clients.

Jared Smith