WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Re: Minimal style needed to make links accessible?


From: Jukka K. Korpela
Date: Aug 24, 2010 11:39AM

tom mcCain wrote:

>> according to F73: . . . they could be (for example) bolded or
> italicized insted of underlined.
> Bold face and italic (more accurately, oblique, not italic on web
> sites) have other, better uses than link styling.

Indeed: they can, for example, be used to _emphasize_ some links.

On web pages, italic and oblique really mean the same, which can be italic,
oblique, or false oblique, depending on the font. But this is a typographic
issue. (For Times New Roman, <i> gives you italic. For Arial, oblique, more
or less. For Arial Unicode MS, false oblique, i.e. normal letters as
algorithmically slanted. This isn't really about accessibility, except that
false oblique may create an insult and an obstacle to typographically
oriented people. :-))

I fail to see any wisdom in F73. Surely you cannot expect that bolding or
italics (or oblique) font as such could convey the meaning of a link. It
might do that in a well-design user style sheet known to the user. But on
the authoring side, if you remove underlining of links, there's nothing you
could use to communicate link-ness except (possibly) by color. Anything else
is up to a convention, and there are no global conventions on this. Using
italics or bolding will probably just confuse.

And if the idea is that such rendering features are explicitly explained on
a page, like "bolding means link on this page", then there are several
1) it draws attention to technicalities, which is a bad thing in itself
2) people don't read explanations
3) it deprives you of possibilities of using bolding for any other purpose
4) it sounds foolish when read aloud.

A more sensible idea is to insert a left-pointing arrow before each link
that might not otherwise be recognized as a link. This corresponds to an
encyclopedic tradition and is fairly intuitive. I'm not advocating such
rendering except that it beats the F73 ideas without breathing hard.

Yucca, http://www.cs.tut.fi/~jkorpela/