E-mails - Guidelines for Accessible Messages

E-mail is widely used by everyone within the College community. The following are tips that ensure that e-mail messages are accessible to all students and staff.

When creating e-mails ensure you:

  • Use plain text formats instead of HTML: Most e-mail programs provide users with the option to send messages in one of two different formats, plain text or HTML. Text only is the most accessible and usable format for e-mail messages. While HTML e-mails can be made accessible for people with disabilities, this tends to be time-consuming.
  • Make subject lines clear: Avoid blank subject lines or subject lines that could be confused with spam e-mail.
  • Put the most important information first: The best way to make sure that recipients read the information you want is to put that information first. Putting new or important information at the end of an e-mail may cause recipients to discard the message, especially if they have read the information previously.
  • Keep messages short and to the point: Shorter messages are easier for most people, including people with learning disabilities, to read and understand.
  • Are careful when forwarding e-mail: When you forward an e-mail, the header of the previous e-mail, including a list of recipients, carries over into your message. A long list of recipients cannot easily be skipped by recipients using screen reading technology.
  • Avoid using decorative graphics. If graphics are necessary, make sure that they are labelled with alt text for recipients who are blind or have low vision, or who can only read text-only e-mails.
  • Ensure style and format conform to MS Word - Guidelines for Accessible Documents.

To change mail settings in Outlook:

You can change the format of a message when you reply to it or forward it. For example, if someone sends you a plain text message, you can reply to that message or forward it using HTML or Rich Text Format. (How the message appears to the person receiving it depends on their email program. You can’t control that.)

Change the format of a reply or a forwarded message

For example, you can change a HTML message to plain text. Here’s how:

  1. In the message, click ReplyReply All, or Forward.

  2. If you’re working in the Reading Pane, click Pop Out.

    (If you aren’t working in the Reading Pane, you don’t need to do this.)

  3. In the message window, click Format Text > Plain text .