How to Check Emails for Accessibility in Outlook

Microsoft Office in a Magnifying Glass

Emails are convenient for many, but a wide range of disabilities can make the format difficult to use for many of our friends, family, and colleagues. Make sure that your emails are fully accessible by using Microsoft Outlook’s built-in Accessibility Checker.

How to Access the Accessibility Checker in Outlook

With Outlook’s Accessibility Checker, you can scan your emails for various issues that might pose issues for people with disabilities. The tool will look for things like images missing the alternative text that people who use screen reader rely on to understand images image. It will make sure that tables have simple structures that can be navigated by assistive technology, check your heading styles to simplify navigation, and generally ensure that your email follows best practices for accessibility.

To check any Microsoft Outlook email for accessibility issues, click the “Review” tab on the ribbon while composing an email, and select “Check Accessibility.” This button is at the end of the bar, so if your email window isn’t full screen you might need to click on the three horizontal dots on the right to access this button. If you’re using Outlook on a Mac, the “Check Accessibility” button can be found under the “Options” tab.

Outlook Accessbility Checker Under Review Tab

A new Accessibility pane will appear on the right side of your email window, showing you all the errors, warnings, tips, or suggestions it has found for this email so far. Click on the arrow next to any issue to open a drop-down menu that will direct you to the specific instances where this issue occurs.

Outlook Accessibility Pane

Further down this pane, you can find additional information on this particular issue, why you might want to fix it, and some simple step-by-step instructions on how to fix it. If you want to know more about specific rules used by the Accessibility Checker in Outlook or in other Microsoft applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, visit Microsoft’s documentation on the subject.

How to Request Accessible Emails in Outlook

By using Outlook’s Accessibility Settings, you can specifically request accessible content from the people sending emails to you. To activate this setting, you’ll need to navigate the Outlook web app through any web browser and log in to your Outlook account. Open the “Settings” cog in the top right and then select “View All Outlook Settings.”

Outlook Web App Settings

Select the “General” tab on the right side, then select “Accessibility.” Make sure that the “Ask Senders To Send Content That’s Accessible” box is checked, then hit “Save.”

Microsoft Outlook Provide Accessible Content

Simple is usually better when it comes to creating accessible digital content. Outlook’s Accessibility Checker will give you more insight into how to craft better emails for your audience, and will help you rectify any otherwise small issues that might pose big problems to others.

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