Text Email Newsletter "Standard" | August 11, 2004

The people behind the E-access Bulletin Newsletter have suggested a format to increase the accessibility of email newsletters. The format, which they are calling the Text Email Newsletter Standard includes suggestions such as

Most of these suggestions make sense, although a couple of issues were raised on a WAI mailing list recently. I’d be interested to see what you folks make of these recommendations, especially if you’re involved in the accessibility community or the writing of email newsletters.

Posted at August 11, 2004 5:26 PM


Derek Featherstone said on August 11, 2004 8:31 PM

Hi Andy,

I recall discussing this a while back in a conversation with Laura Carlson about her weekly newsletter. At first I was a bit skeptical, and found it to be a bit clumsy to look at. I’ve been reading her newsletter every week for close to a year now, and I had honestly forgotten about all of the extra + signs [section ends] that were in there. Essentially, they’ve disappeared - I just skim on past them, not noticing them at all.

Which means, if it helps screenreaders, then I don’t see it as a big issue.

What I’ve never been sure about is how they arrived at these guidelines? I’m not saying that it isn’t good advice — some points seem very relevant. However, I’d question some of them:

I’d be very interested in any other information as well — like how/why/when they came up with the guidelines. Maybe this is a case where some of their guidelines apply to older versions of screen readers? It would be great if we could see some results of testing with screen reader users. I asked a few of our testers about it when I first heard of TEN, and they didn’t have much to say either way — a case where they are simply used to “coping” with what they get?

Ben Palmer said on August 14, 2004 10:48 AM

“Only use ASCII symbols with decimal code numbers between 32 and 127”

Rather short-sighted. What about other languages?

Laura Carlson said on August 20, 2004 7:11 PM

As Derek mentioned, I’ve been using the TEN format as a navigation aid for screenreaders in my Web Design Update Newsletter for over two years now.

User response to the format has been quite positive. The newsletter even won an award in 2003.

Regarding the TEN format, people have commented that they appreciate:

1. “Attention to accessible-friendliness.”
2. “Clearly distinguished separate sections and articles.”
3. “Summary of contents at the top of each issue.”
4. “Spacing between the heading and articles.”
5. “Consistency and clear writing.”
6. “Organization and format.”
7. “The simplicity.”
8. “Attention to accessibility issues.”

To date I haven’t received any negative feedback.

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