Accessible Web Links
What Are Links?
Web links assist all web audiences including assistive technology users navigate web pages. The use of links increases the accessibility, navigability and functionality of web content.
Why Are Accessible Links Important?
The web audience that uses assistive technologies can access web links easily by listing links and tabbing through them if the links are marked up correctly .
Best Practices For Links
- Use clear, short and descriptive link names.
- You may need to reword a sentence to make an in-context link make sense.
- E.g., "Although disability laws governing higher education do not require..."
- Inform the user that selecting a link will cause a specific action/result to occur.
- For example, if applicable, add "(click to enlarge)" to the link name if a smaller version of an image is linked to a larger version.
- Another example is to indicate if the link goes to an external website by including "(external web site)."
- The link text should make sense out of context. This is particularly helpful for individuals who use screen readers. The screen reader functionality enables the user to easily navigate to the appropriate content.
- When possible, use the title of the destination web page.
- When linking to documents and pdfs provide the file type text within the link. The user can then determine whether to click on that link to download or view the file.
- E.g., include "(pdf format)" or "(doc format)" at the end of the link name if selecting the link will open a file.
- When linking to another web page, do not link to an anchor further down in the body of the destination web page, for this causes confusion for screen-reader users. Instead, link to the top of the main content of the web page.
- Avoid using links that open up in a new window. For individuals using screen readers, it can be disorientating. It is also difficult to track the history of the web page or pages visited.
Example of Accessible Links
Below are examples of accessible links. They are clear, concise and link to webpages that match the link name:
- The QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training Program at Northwestern
- Consider the context when deciding if "at Northwestern" needs to be in the link. For instance, it may be redundant for an internal (Northwestern) page but would be necessary if another university were referencing Northwestern's program.
- Warning Signs for Suicide
- Facts About Suicide
- What you can do to help someone who is suicidal
- Note that this example is not just the title of the page it links to; "to help someone who is suicidal" was added since the page title, "What you can do to help," is a little vague if it were simply read as one of a list of link names included on a page.
- Additional Resources for Suicide Prevention
- Check if text links have meaningful names by reading the text out loud, simulating a screen reader.
- Avoid underlining if possible. This can become confusing if underlining looks similar to web links.
- Do not use “Click Here”, “More”, “Info” or “Follow" because these link names tell a screen reader nothing about the content of the link.
- Guidelines for naming in-text links from Penn State
- YouTube video on making links accessible from the University of California at Irvine