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Accessibility (508) and Email

Document Type: Standard


Content:

HHS must make all broadcast emails and emails generated by Web applications (“Email this page,” etc.) accessible to people with disabilities.

This standard applies to both internal and external emails, as well as all associated attachments, including graphics, audio, and video.

Reason:

Section 508 and HHS policy require electronic information technology to be accessible to people with disabilities. This requirement applies to email as well as websites, as email is often a means of distributing electronic documents to federal employees and members of the public seeking information and services.

Requirements:

Files or forms on the Web that are linked to from within an email must be accessible. However,  an email may link to websites without regard to accessibility if those sites are outside the direct control of the office originating the email.

Graphic elements included in the body of the email must be accessible. Images should be tagged via HTML or captioned in text beneath the image. Images or graphics that are strictly decorative (holly leaves on a holiday party announcement) should be tagged with alt=“” so the screen reader ignores them.

Broadcast emails and emails generated by Web applications (“Email this page,” etc.) must meet this standard and be in compliance with the applicable Section 508 standards.

Broadcast emails, as defined in this standard, are emails sent:
  • By a federal official (FTE, non-FTE, SES, appointee, commission member, or someone acting on their behalf) to any group or list of people, some of whom are not personally known to the sender, OR;
  • As final documents, intended for distribution to other federal officials or to members of the public seeking information and services.



Exemptions:

Individual or workgroup emails to known people without disabilities or working drafts should meet Section 508 standards as much as possible. Alternative or accessible formats must be made available on request.