How To Design Email For Visually Impaired Subscribers: 2021 Guide

How To Design Email For Visually Impaired Subscribers: 2021 Guide

At nearly every step of the buyer’s journey, email marketing is one of the most preferred channels for converting and retaining leads. Furthermore, email is the only push-based marketing medium in which all you need is the subscriber’s email address to begin developing long-term connections with them.

But visual impairment or blindness affects at least 2.2 billion individuals worldwide. In addition, adaptive technologies such as screen readers, magnifiers, eye-tracking, joysticks, and sip-and-puff technology have made digital material more accessible to visually impaired people.

While it comes to emails, email developers should take into account visual impairment when creating them. Whether it’s the email text, font size, font color, or graphic components, each user should be able to understand it.

Let’s take a closer look at how to create emails for visually challenged readers. 

Be Mindful With How You Embed Your Email Copy 

Your text should be split into readily consumable parts with the aid of headers so that your email is more accessible for all subscribers, including those who use a screen reader to access your email.

The subject line of your email serves as the introduction to what your copy contains. A subject line should initiate a discussion that will be continued in the body of the email. If you’re utilizing a text-based hyperlink, it’s best to connect to the relevant material rather than a general phrase like “Click here.” Your CTA copy should always describe what will happen if you click it. Actionable terms like “Download your eBook copy” or “Start your free trial” will also convert subscribers who are reading the email directly.

To determine the readability of your email, email developers can use Microsoft’s Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease test.

  • 90-100: Easily comprehended by an 11-year-old child.
  • 60-70: Teenagers aged 13-15 find it simple to grasp.
  • 30-50: Simple to comprehend for college students.
  • 0-30: College grads have a good understanding of it.

You will get a higher score if you use simple terminology.

Formatting Emails

Allow enough space between paragraphs for the email recipient to distinguish between them. Each line of text should be 60-70 characters long and left-aligned. It is suggested that relevant information be grouped and separated using typographic margins and adequate white space. To create the proper visual hierarchy, start with the most crucial statement. Subscribers with neurological or cognitive disabilities will be able to understand the message effectively due to this.

When using CSS, make sure your emails’ content doesn’t scatter during rendering. The WAI HTML Table Linearizer or the Web Accessibility Toolbar are two tools that might help you verify your email’s reading order. Ascertain that the subscriber can read it from beginning to end without difficulty.

The Email’s Color Scheme

Email marketers must select the correct hue for subscribers who suffer from migraines and light sensitivity. If backlit panels contain strong blue and saturated red colors, they might induce headaches and eye strain.

Because certain subscribers are unable to distinguish between hues, color blindness should be taken into account when creating emails. Color blindness affects 1 in every 12 males and 1 in every 200 women on the planet. You should always use the Color BLIndness Simulator or a similar tool to check your emails. You can also use WebAim Color Contrast Checker to determine the color contrast between the text and the backdrop.

Can you read all the numbers hidden in the circle? A colorblind person might miss the numbers in the circle.

When it comes to colors, there are a few key things to keep in mind:

  • The color of the email should have no bearing on the message you wish to send.
  • Use contrasting hues to ensure easy reading.
  • Avoid using too many colors by going monochromatic.
  • For the reader’s convenience, links and text should be of a distinct hue.
  • Color Oracle may be used to see how colorblind people would interpret your email.

Coding for Emails

Although the backend of your email has no direct impact on your subscribers, it is still a crucial element of producing an accessible email since an email client will render your email based on the quality of the code. Headlines should be written in <h1> tags while headings in <h2> to <h6> tags. Paragraphs should be wrapped in <p> tags.

While the majority of your subscribers will read your emails on traditional devices, there will be those who will navigate using assistive technology. Because emails are coded using the <table> style, your email code must allow recipients to browse through your email using their keyboard. Any person with a motor disability can access the CTA button by using the ‘tab’ key on their keyboard and then pressing the ‘space’ or ‘return’ key to ‘click’ on it.

Screen readers will read the text inside the table instead of each cell if you include ‘role=presentation’ in every <table> in your email.

Alt-text for your photos that is relevant: Including relevant alt-text in your photos allows visitors to understand what your image is about even when it is not being viewed. Add an alt property but leave the field empty if your graphic is simply for representational purposes, such as an arrow in a CTA button or a vertical spacer. A screen reader will then pause at the image before moving on.

What To Test For Accessibility In Your Emails And How To Do It

Accessibility testing differs depending on the devices and here’s what HTML email developers should keep in mind:


  • The content is completely accessible with a keyboard.
  • To scroll through your email, use the arrow keys on your keyboard. Also, make sure your links open in a new tab for individuals who use webmail or the online view feature to see emails in their browser.
  • All pictures have alternative text.
  • Manually disabling graphics via web tools like Wave Tool or Google’s Accessibility Developers Tools. The pictures that do not have an alt property should display a ‘no alt’ warning.
  • Look for HTML markup that is semantic.
  • Find tags <h1> to <h6> by right-clicking on your email and selecting ‘Inspect Element’. You may also look at the tags in the HTML code.
  • To manually zoom the email, press ‘ctrl’ and ‘+’ and see if the email layout changes when zooming.


  • Support for pinch-zoom gestures
  • Check if the email zooms till the text size is readable using the two-finger ‘pinch to zoom’ gesture.
  • Support for voice overs
  • Check whether the body content is read aloud using built-in screen readers like Talkback for Android and Voiceover for iOS.

Summing Up

You should definitely follow these recommendations if you want your emails to reach a bigger audience and be accessible to everyone. In an email, accessibility extends a positive user experience regardless of who is reading your email at any particular time. When your readers can read your emails without feeling irritated, you’re creating trust, which reduces email unsubscribes and, in turn, helps you grow your client base.

About the author


Steven Ly

Steven Ly is the Startup Program and Events Manager at TheNextHint Inc. She recruits rockstar startups for all TC events including Disrupt, meetups, Sessions, and more both domestically and internationally. Previously, she helped produce Dreamforce with Salesforce and Next '17 with Google. Prior to that, she was on the advertising teams at both Facebook and AdRoll, helping support advertisers in North America and helped grow those brands globally. Outside of work, Priya enjoys Flywheel, tacos, the 49ers, and adventuring around the globe.

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