An email in Outlook automatically asking the sender to resolve accessibility issues.

I recently attended AbilityNet’s TechShare Pro 2020 conference. In this post, I’m going to share a top tip I learned from Microsoft.

When creating an email in Outlook 365 you can check for any accessibility issues.

Checking Email Accessibility

Once you have composed an email, open the Review tab and select Check Accessibility.

Screenshot where the Review tab and Check Accessibility button are highlighted when composing an Outlook email.

This opens the accessibility inspector that identifies any issues and will help you to fix them.

Screenshot of the accessibility inspector in Outlook.  It warns about hard to read text contrast and that alternate text is missing for an image.

Telling colleagues you prefer accessible content

A further tip is to state that you prefer accessible content in emails you receive. This can help to promote the use of accessibility features and makes colleagues more aware of the importance of accessibility.

To do this, enter the settings area of your web-based Outlook email. It’s a cog icon appearing at the top right of the screen.

Screenshot taken of outlook web based email.  The settings cog icon is highlighted.

Search for the word access in the search box and select Accessible Content.

Screenshot taken of outlook web based email.  The word "access" has been entered in the Search box, and has returned an option labelled Accessible Content.

Tick the box next to Ask senders to send content that’s accessible.

Screenshot taken from outlook web based email.  I've ticked the box to ask for accessible content.

When a colleague in your organisation using Outlook 365 writes you an email they see this on-screen warning if they used any inaccessible content. Helpfully for the sender, selecting Review accessibility issues opens Outlook’s accessibility inspector to advise how to resolve issues it finds.

Screenshot showing what happens when I try to send an email that contains inaccessible content to a colleague who prefers to receive accessible content.

Spread the word

The speaker at TechShare Pro even advised adding a phrase like “This email has been checked for accessibility” in email signatures. To help me to remember to run the Check Accessibility tool, I changed my Outlook ribbon to include a new tab with only the Check Accessibility button.

In this screenshot the default tab shown when I compose an email shows only the accessibility checker, helping me to remember to select it before I send an email.

Find out more

How can I improve the accessibility of my emails?

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