5 Ways to Write for Accessibility and Readability

1. Images – Create clear descriptions or “alternative text” for them in web pages, blog and social media posts, and e-newsletters to aid the visually or cognitively impaired. Add as much detail as possible within any limits on the number of characters. Alt text, however, isn’t the place for a link, a source citation, or more information irrelevant to the graphic featured. Write for accessibility — remove phrases like “image of” or “picture of” and get to the description in a complete sentence. MailChimp suggests avoiding images entirely if you can convey the same information in writing.

Example: NASA won praise for its 126-word alt text in a Twitter post featuring a photo of the early universe taken with the James Webb telescope. It begins: “The background of space is black. Thousands of galaxies appear all across the view. Their shapes and colors vary.” Yours don’t have to be that long, but they should be long enough to create a picture in someone’s mind.

2. HashtagsPerkins Access suggests you capitalize the first letter in each word in a hashtag to help screen reading software pronounce it correctly.

Example: #EmailMarketing instead of #emailmarketing

3. Email headlines – Subject lines with specific wording can reveal the reason for and the topic of your message.

Example: Picked for you: light wash jeans (Levis®)

4. Links – Avoid the phrases “click here” or “learn more” in favor of words that describe the purpose of the link. Adding a benefit can influence clicks.

Example: Read more about planting healthy petunias.

5. Overall – When you write for accessibility, consider the entire language and structure of your piece. Is the wording clear and easy to understand, free of jargon and slang? If someone can’t see colors, images, or video, is the message still clear? Can someone skim the document and absorb everything?

Depending on their settings, some screen readers might not interpret punctuation correctly. For clearer sentences, punctuate properly. An “Oxford” or “serial” comma distinguishes items in a series (example: grapes, apples, and bananas).

Need help improving your content? A “makeover” can boost your engagement and help you get the right leads.


How do you write for accessibility? Feel free to comment further below.


“I do not care much about speaking in some jargon that perpetuates inaccessibility.” ~ Malebo Sephodi

“You might ‘know’ the person you’re writing to is not disabled. But you cannot guarantee your email will not be sent on to someone who is. Being inclusive from the start removes the risk.” ~ Elisabeth Ward

Published November 1, 2022

Leave a Reply