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Accessibility in LibraryAware Emails

Reaching subscribers includes creating emails that are accessible to everyone. 

Check out these tips for ways to design your emails with accessibility in mind.

View emails in plain text
Individuals with vision impairment often use screen readers to view email content. Plain text emails don’t have any images, embedded links, or rich-text formatting, so they’re often faster and easier to read with screen readers. Learn more from WebAim about how screen readers read content.

Emails created in and sent through LibraryAware can be viewed in plain text by subscribers by simply changing their email preferences to plain text as outlined below. This is also a great way to test how your email will look in plain text. Just send an email to yourself and follow these steps:


The steps vary with different versions of Outlook. You’ll find them here.


  1. Open the email and select Reply.

  2. At the bottom, select the three-dot menu.

  3. Choose Plain text mode. 

Yahoo Mail

  1. Open the email and select Reply.

  2. At the bottom, select the three-dot menu.

  3. Select the Tx icon to open the Switch to Plain Text pop-up.

  4. Select OK.

Design tips to help make your emails more accessible
  • Keep your font size at 16 points or larger.
  • Think high contrast when choosing colors for your text and backgrounds. Test out color combinations with an online contrast analyzer like Contrast Checker
  • Make your call-to-action buttons big enough to tap easily on a mobile device and keep the area around the button clear to reduce the chance that the wrong button will be selected. 

  • Leave plenty of white space or blank space between elements of your design.

  • Avoid capitals, italics, and underlining words when emphasizing text (such as with text links), as they can make words harder to read. Instead, highlight text by bolding. Bold text appears more distinct and gives letters and words higher contrast. 

  • Some of your subscribers may have images disabled by default, so we recommend not relying on an image-only email. All images should include Alt-Text.
Here are a few tips for writing alt-text from the American Federation for the Blind.
    • There's no need to start with "picture of..." or "image of..." You can jump right in to describing your image.

    • Describe the function of the image. Especially if the image is a link, "Search the Card Catalog" is much more useful than "Photo of a collection of books and other reading materials scattered on a library table."

    • Brief is better. Remember, syllables are time.

    • Put the most essential information first. If it is necessary to use a number of words, use "Acme Logo: Sun rising over white sand dunes" rather than "Sun rising over white sand dunes: Acme Logo."

    • Meaningless graphics need not have meaningful text. If a graphic is being used as a spacer, to push other graphics into position, don't label the thing "Green spacer." Instead, put a space between the quotes of the alt-text so users don't have their train of thought disrupted by such irrelevant information. Use this "non-text" judiciously, though. If you can't think of something to say about an image, that doesn't mean it's meaningless.

    • Maintain the alt-text. If your image map is rearranged so that the last item is now "Contact Us," don't forget to move the alt-text, too. Otherwise, that image will still be labeled as "Site Map" and users will be lost.

    • Alt-text reflects your professionalism just as much as your choice of images. Spell words correctly.

  • Make you email subject lines concise and descriptive. Like a visual reader, screen readers also start reading emails from the subject line.

Consider your colorblind subscribers
  • Use fewer colors to minimize confusion for those with color blindness. A color palette of 2-3 colors is best.

  • When including text links, don't rely on making them blue. Highlight text links by bolding, and avoid underlining.
  • Again, make sure to use clearly contrasting colors in your items, so that they can be easily distinguished from one another. In addition to testing your color combinations in an online contrast analyzer like Contrast Checker, try checking an online color blindness simulator like Coblis.

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