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Accessible Text Email Newsletters

The Text Email Newsletter (TEN) Standard is an 18-point "easy to use" guide to help make plain-text email newsletters more accessible and easier to navigate and understand for visually disabled people using assistive technologies such as screen readers or speech enabled Web browsers. Implementing the Standard will benefit all readers, not just the visually disabled.

The recommendations of the TEN standard include:

  • having a contents section at the beginning of your newsletter
  • clearly dividing the newsletter into sections
  • numbering all articles
  • making all headlines UPPER CASE.

Many of the recommendations are simple formatting guidelines which ensure that assistive technology reads out your newsletter correctly.

Why Bother?

Web accessibility has been an issue for disabled Internet users for many years. In recent years disability legislation regarding Web accessibility has been passed in many countries around the world. This has forced many Web developers to consider the needs of their disabled visitors, often for the first time.

A TEN Standard compliant newsletter prevents developers from falling foul of any prospective legal problems, or at least provides an excellent defence!

The Web is the best way yet of providing equal opportunities for all. Accessible Web sites improve the quality of life for millions of disabled users around the world - the disabled can enjoy the full benefits of the Web along with everyone else.

A TEN Standard compliant newsletter shows ALL your subscribers, and prospective subscribers, that you care and have considered their needs.

It makes economic sense for owners of e-business and commercial Web sites to design a newsletter which can be easily read by the widest possible range of people. A TEN Standard compliant newsletter benefits everyone because it is easier to navigate and information is easier to locate. This will encourage subscribers to remain subscribed and encourage new subscribers, thus increasing the popularity of your newsletter.

Conclusion

I found the guidelines were quite easy to implement. I have also created a TEN Standard compliant newsletter template which means that all future editions of the mickwood.com monthly newsletter will be easy to produce.

If you do decide to implement the TEN Standard you can "sign-up" to the Standard. This could be a useful marketing opportunity as, eventually, your organisation will be listed at the TEN Standard Web site. Further information about the TEN Standard can be obtained from the same address.

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