Alamo Colleges District

Sending Accessible Emails in Outlook

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Sending accessible emails is incredibly important because it allows everyone to gain equal access to digital content and engage virtually, using features like alt text, proper formatting, and compatibility with assistive technologies.

In this guide, we will cover how to:


Accessibility notifications & options

Outlook has an automatic built-in accessibility checker to help ensure that you are sending emails that are accessible. In Outlook, there are also accessibility options, so you can choose how you receive notification from the accessibility checker.

To view accessibility options, open Outlook > File > Options > Accessibility.

open file tab in outlook
open options in outlook

You can choose when you want to see accessibility warnings.

Option #1 (recommended) ensures every email you send will be reviewed without having to open the accessibility checker each time you send an email.

Option #2 allows you to select when you want to see accessibility warnings. If you choose this option, It's important that you check all options underneath to ensure that emails are always checked under different circumstances where this may be necessary. Additionally, you will have to open the accessibility checker if none of these scenarios apply.

Option #3 is if you do not wish to see accessibility warnings unless you open the checker in your email. This option is not recommended unless you feel comfortable with remembering to open the checker every time you send an email.

Choose your options, and select OK.

select accessibilty settings

Check accessibility while you work

If you selected option #1 from above, then the accessibility checker will open automatically each time you draft an email. If you chose 2 or 3, follow the steps below to open the checker.

To open the accessibility checker in Outlook while you work, simply open a New Email or Draft > Review > Check Accessibility.

open new email in outlook
open review tab in email
check accessibility while you work in email

Make necessary adjustments

In the accessibility checker, Outlook will make recommendations based on errors found in your email. Simply click on the error, select the item, and click the recommended action.

check accessibility errors and correct them in email

To open the accessibility checker on Mac devices, simply open a New Email or Draft > Options > Check Accessibility.

open new email in outlook
review options in new email and check accessibility

Double-click the suggestion to make edits.

check accessibility errors and make corrections in outlook mac
Best practices when writing accesible emails

Alt. Text

Alternative text is used for images, icons, or other digital media. It provides a description of the media which is helpful for individuals who cannot see the screen. Screen readers can read the alt. text aloud to help  them gain an understanding of what the image means or what is happening on the screen.

As long as accessibility warnings are enabled, Outlook will notify you if you do not have alt. text and allow you to add a description directly in the accessibility checker.

Good Alt text is clear, concise, and descriptive.

Font & Color

Use standard fonts such as arial, times, or calibri. Avoid using all capital letters, italics, or bright colored fonts such as light blue, yellow, orange, or green. For those who have trouble seeing, they might miss important information that was meant to be highlighted in the text. Simply try bolding important information instead.

Text size

Don't use font size lower than 11 or 12 pt. Font size that is smaller then that can be difficult to read especially for those who have trouble seeing. It is recommended that you stick to 12 pt font for body text.

For headings or subheadings, aim for 15-18 pt font, anything larger might be difficult to read on mobile devices.

Descriptive links

Writing descriptive links are essential to understanding what it a user is clicking on. Don't use phrases like "click here" or "learn more."

Bad link description: "To learn more about Alamo Colleges IT department, click here."

Good link description: "Visit Alamo Colleges IT Department to learn more.

Rather then creating a link to "here", create a link that describes exactly where the user is going.

Also, avoid using bright colored fonts for links as they can prevent someone from being able to see the text. Instead, if you want to emphasize a link, just underline it or bold the text if necessary.


Not everyone may have consistent access to a desk top computer or laptop, therefore making sure that your content can easily be read on mobile devices such as smartphones or tablets is key to accessibility. Before sending out an email or file, try sending a copy of the email to yourself, then open it on a mobile device to ensure that it is accessible and free of errors.

Don't use too many images

While images are useful for providing additional ways to engage or receive information, overuse of images could take up unnecessary space since they may need to be downloaded on different devices to see them, or make messages difficult to understand for those with visual impairments. Therefore, keep image use to a minimum when possible.

Additional Support & Resources

We hope this guide helped you to create more accessible information to your network. If you have additional questions about accessibility, please feel free to leave a comment.

Visit Microsoft Accessibility for more information on making content more accessible in Office 365 applications.


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