Simple Best Practices for Accessible Image Content in Email


I am encouraging people to consider a best practice for communications (kind of an email web accessibility approach) of including the relevant text for attached images.

Where I’ve been encountering this a lot lately has been with people promoting an event. This is a very particular use case, with special needs. Often they’ve worked very hard on a poster of the event. Of course, they want to include that lovely image, so they attach a copy. Far too often, I see that they have NO other information in the email. I might be able to get by with this, but that doesn’t mean everyone else can.

EXAMPLE:
Virtual Reality in Health - Event poster

TIP 1:
Folk with images disabled, HTML-email disabled, vision impairments, or reading email on mobile devices may not be able to easily get the important content from the picture. So include in the body of the email text whatever important text is on the image.

TIP 2:
Also, some email systems automatically sense when it is an event invitation and offer to add it to your calendar, making it very easy for people to then create a personal reminder about your event, thus making it more likely for them to show up. A real win-win across the board! The best way to make sure their email can sense that this is an event is to use the standard format of:
– What
– When (Date/Time)
– Where
with each element on one line. For location, if you can include a link to a map or directions, that is best.

TIP 3:
Include a link to a website or blogpost if there is one. This should have more detailed information about the event, speakers, directions, special considerations, contact for more info, contact to arrange accessibility accommodations for persons with special needs.

TIP 4:
One more tip? Give the image file you attach a descriptive name. Image001.jpg is not going to help someone find it after downloading.

TIP 5:
Last but not least, if possible, attach a PDF instead of an image file.

BONUS POINTS: If you really want to get the word out, don’t just have a web page and an image, but also have the poster and information in shareable social media spaces, like Flickr or Slideshare.

EXAMPLE Part Two: The Email Could Look Like This
Virtual Reality in Health - Event poster

We’d really appreciate it if you could attend our event, and share the information with others.

Virtual Reality in Health
Thursday, June 19, 2008
2:00pm-4:00pm
Duderstadt Center Video Studio http://www.dc.umich.edu/hoursmaps/maps.htm
More info: http://mblog.lib.umich.edu/hsl/archives/2008/06/virtual_reality.html

If you want to promote the event yourself, the link to the shareable version of the poster is here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/rosefirerising/2550027058/

2 responses to “Simple Best Practices for Accessible Image Content in Email

  1. Pingback: Weekend Reading: Lethargy Edition - ProfHacker - The Chronicle of Higher Education

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