Links and Hypertext
Introduction to Links and Hypertext
- Current page: Page 1: Introduction to Links and Hypertext
- Keyboard Accessibility of Links
- Screen Readers and Links
- Page 2: Link Text and Appearance
- Page 3: Hypertext Links
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Hypertext links are one of the most basic elements of HTML, as its name implies (HTML stands for HyperText Markup Language). As such, making hypertext links accessible is one of the most basic and most important aspects of web accessibility. For the most part, this is an easy task. Standard hypertext links work with all technologies and platforms and users of all abilities can access them, whether directly or through the use of some sort of assistive technology. As might be expected though, there is more to hypertext link accessibility than simply creating a link. Some types of links are more accessible than others, and some types of links are completely inaccessible to people with certain types of disabilities. Because links are so basic to the functionality of web content, inaccessible links are one of the most severe barriers to overall accessibility.
Keyboard Accessibility of Links
<a href="#" onmouseover="dropdownmenu()">Products</a>
Mouse users will at least be able to click on the links in the drop-down
menu, but keyboard users cannot access the drop-down menu, so
the link is completely useless and all of the link destinations
in the drop-down menu are completely inaccessible to them. One
solution is to abandon the drop-down menu and instead use standard
hypertext links. Another solution is to specify a real link destination
href="products.htm") which would list
the same links that are available via the drop-down menu. For
more information see example 2 in
Screen Readers and Links
People who use screen readers to access the web most often use their keyboard rather than their mouse, so keyboard accessibility is an important first step in making hypertext links accessible to screen reader users. Beyond basic keyboard accessibility, it helps to know how screen reader users access links.
Screen readers inform users that a piece of text (or a graphic) is a link
JAWS says "link" before each link. For example, a link that says "products" would be read as "link products" by JAWS. IBM Home Page Reader switches voices. A male-sounding voice reads regular text and a female-sounding voice reads link text.
Implication: Links do not need
to say "link" in the link text, because all users already
know that the link is a link. This is more of an issue with graphics
used as links. The
alt text for a graphic does
not need to say "link" or "link to." Otherwise, JAWS users will hear
"link graphic link to Products," which is redundant.