AHEAD: Association for Higher Education Access & Disability
Creating inclusive environments in education & employment for people with disabilities.


Emails and Newsletters Accessibility Guidelines 


If you use regular emails as a way to share information and keep in touch with your members, it is important that all of your members have the ability to understand these newsletters. Following accessibility guidelines for your emails will ensure the greatest number of people possible will read them, and be able to engage with you.  


Plain English 

Use concise, informative writing with plain English in your emails. The readability of your message is an important consideration. Avoid using jargon, or if using specialised language is unavoidable, consider providing a short glossary of specific unusual terms. You can check the readability of your text at this website: Follow this link to Online Utility, a resource to check and improve your readability

Furthermore you can use software such as Grammarly to check your tone and vocabulary is suitable for a general audience. 


If your email has a lot of key points, separate these out into sections with headings. If you present someone with a very long, involved email, and no way to ascertain what, if any, of it is relevant or important to them, they will not read through it. Each event you are running, competition you are having, submissions you are calling for or other significant chunk of information you are presenting, should be clearly signposted with a heading, before elaborating with the essential details.  


At the bottom of your emails, you should include contact details for at least one person who questions can be directed to. The first may be the secretary/chair of a society or the president of the SU. If you have one, also include contact details of an Accessibility Contact (AC) or Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Officer (or your organisations equivalent).  


All the best,  

Joe Bloggs 


Society email 

If you would like to raise any concerns about the accessibility, equity or inclusivity of the club/society/union, please contact our Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) Officer, Christine. Christine’s email.  

Videos All have Accurate Captioning  


Promotional videos for SUs, clubs and societies should all include captioning. Any video posted on your official channels should reflect this expectation. When you are screening movies or videos you must put on subtitles. They are available for all legal means of viewing movies, including renting movies on YouTube if they aren’t available elsewhere.

What do different terms for captioning mean?

Subtitles are provided for all movies and TV series on popular streaming platforms. They are taken from the screenplay script and are most accurate. Anytime you are showing a professional video, you should enable the subtitles for people who are Deaf or have auditory processing  issues. 

Closed Captions are for live meetings and virtual events. They are available for all viewers, but each viewer has the option to have them on or off. Auto-captioning is available on Zoom, this is closed captioning, meaning you can enable this service by pressing the "CC" button, and turn it off the same way. While auto-captioning is helpful, there can be issues with inaccuracies, most especially if your speakers have strong accents. If it is the case that you know you will have attendees who would benefit from captioning at your event, ideally, you would book a live captioner for superior accuracy. 

Open Captions are the least preferred captioning option. Open captions make the captions mandatory viewing for all attendees, unlike in Zoom, you cannot opt out of closed captions. Some people find subtitles opt captions distract them, so if possible it is best to offer them the choice to view without. In a situation where you are screening publicly, such as a movie night, it is important to use subtitles or captions. This is because while some people find them a hinderance or a distraction, others cannot view the movie at all without the audio transcribed.  

Use CamelCase Hashtags

To create a CamelCase hashtag, please capitalise each word in a phrase. For example, #ThisIsAVeryLongHashtag, not, #thisisaverylonghashtag. Using CamelCase hashtags allows anyone using a screen reader, including blind people, to understand your hashtags.

Use Emojis Sparingly

Emojis can be helpful for conveying the tone of a message, however it is important to consider how using many emojis, especially interspersed in messages may cause your meaning to be lost. It hinders people’s understanding of your message if you use them in the middle of a sentence. Best practice is to use emojis at the end of full sentences. It is also generally best to avoid using the same emojis repeatedly, or having a long string of emojis. For example, if I had a tweet that said “When bae hates cats.” Followed by 46 red flag emojis, some text to speech software will read this as: “When bae hates cats. Red flag emoji, red flag emoji, red flag emoji, red flag . . . “ 


Links should always be descriptive. Avoid generic link text such as: “click here” or “learn more” in favour of something more specific like: “Click here to read our more detailed FAQs”. Links need to describe the action that will take place when followed. 

Naked URLs should be avoided as they are hard for screen readers to read. An example of a naked URL is: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEqdumsqT0uHtyswaMUcpwl_iq_9O3bOoSxe1

Plain Text  (for MailChimp Emails)

If you are using MailChimp there is a checkbox to tick that will make your designs all available in plain text format as standard when you send them. Having a plain text version of your email makes your content more accessible to screen-reader users, who will have the content of the email read in the correct order. As well as ensuring that blind people using text to speech technology have a coherent message, some people with anxiety, autism or who do not think visually prefer to have a stripped-back email as it can be easier to scan through and find the information you need in that way. 

Alternative (Alt.) Text for All Posters, Logos and Images

It’s important you add alternative text so that anyone who is using a screen reader, such as blind people, will be able to access the information in the image without being able to see it. Alternative text is a written description of whatever is in the image. The alt-text for each image should be brief, but include all essential information sighted users would get from the images.

Accessible Posters & Graphic Designs 

High Colour Contrast

All of your posters should be legible and clear, as well as having alternative text. Your poster should use accessible colours – with contrast ratio of 7 or more. This can be checked for free by online colour contrast checkers such as: Coolors Contrast Checker, WebAIM Colour Contrast Checker or Colour and font Contrast Checker) and text of minimum size 12.

Text Formatting and Layout 

The text should be a minimum font size of 12 so that people with visual impairments can read the poster.  

Use easily legible fonts throughout your document. Choose a font such as Calibri or Verdana. These fonts are sans-serif, which means they lack the embellishments on letters that you would find on Times New Roman for example. (If using stylistic fonts, make them larger and remember that function is more vital than artistic flare.) 

Avoid italics and underlining – use bold for emphasis. Reading italic or underlined text is more difficult for people with visual impairments, dyslexia and other learning differences.   

Avoid all capital letters, SUCH AS THIS, it can be challenging to read. Use bold for emphasis.  

Left align the content – do not use justification. 

 For more detailed guidance on making strong, accessible posters, follow this link. AllyShip Poster Guidelines.   


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Creating Inclusive Environments in Education and Employment for People with Disabilities

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T +353 1 592 1467 E ahead@ahead.ie W www.ahead.ie RCN 20025182