E-mail Accessibility

Make your Outlook email more accessible. This topic gives you step-by-step instructions to make your email messages accessible to people with disabilities. 

Windows: Best practices for making Outlook email accessible

The following table includes key best practices for creating Outlook email that is accessible to people with disabilities.

What to Fix Why to Fix How to Fix it

Alternative Text should be included with all visuals.
Visual content includes pictures, SmartArt graphics, shapes, groups, charts, embedded objects, ink, and videos.     

Alt text helps people who can’t see the screen to understand what’s important in images and other visuals.

To find missing alternative text, use the Accessibility Checker.

Avoid using text in images as the sole method of conveying important information. If you must use an image with text in it, repeat that text in the document. In alt text, briefly describe the image and mention the existence of the text and its intent.

Add alt text to visuals in Office 365

Add alt text to visuals in Office 2019

Add alt text to visuals in Office 2016

Add meaningful hyperlink text and ScreenTips

People who use screen readers sometimes scan a list of links. Links should convey clear and accurate information about the destination. For example, instead of linking to the text Click here, include the full title of the destination page.

Tip: You can also add ScreenTips that appear when your cursor hovers over text or images that include a hyperlink

Add hyperlink text and ScreenTips

Ensure that color is not the only means of conveying information.

People who are blind, have low vision, or are colorblind might miss out on the meaning conveyed by particular colors.

For example, add an underline to color-coded hyperlink text so that people who are colorblind know that the text is linked even if they can’t see the color. For headings, consider adding bold or using a larger font.

Use accessible font format

Use sufficient contrast for text and background colors.

The text in your email should be readable in High Contrast mode so that everyone, including people with visual disabilities, can see it well.

For example, use bright colors or high-contrast color schemes on opposite ends of the color spectrum. White and black schemes make it easier for people who are colorblind to distinguish text and shapes.

To find insufficient color contrast, use the Accessibility Checker.

Use accessible font color

Use a larger font size (11pt or larger), sans serif fonts, and sufficient white space.

People who have dyslexia describe seeing text “swim together” on a page (the compressing of one line of text into the line below). They often see text merge or distort.

For people who have dyslexia or have low vision, reduce the reading load. For example, they may benefit from familiar sans serif fonts such as Arial or Calibri. Avoid using all capital letters and excessive italics or underlines. Include ample white space between sentences and paragraphs.

Use accessible font format

Adjust space between sentences and paragraphs

Use built-in headings and styles.

To preserve tab order and to make it easier for screen readers to read your email, use a logical heading order and the built-in formatting tools in Outlook.

For example, organize headings in the prescribed logical order. Use Heading 1, Heading 2, and then Heading 3, rather than Heading 3, Heading 1, and then Heading 2. And, organize the information in your email into small chunks. Ideally, each heading would include only a few paragraphs.

Use accessible font format

Use bulleted list styles

Use ordered lists

Use a simple table structure, and specify column header information.

Screen readers keep track of their location in a table by counting table cells. If a table is nested within another table or if a cell is merged or split, the screen reader loses count and can’t provide helpful information about the table after that point. Blank cells in a table could also mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.

To ensure that tables don't contain split cells, merged cells, or nested tables, use the Accessibility Checker.

Screen readers also use header information to identify rows and columns.

Use table headers

For more information on E-mail Accessibility visit Microsoft Office Support