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PDF: Alternative text for endnotes


From: Alan Zaitchik
Date: Apr 28, 2021 7:14AM

I am working on a PDF with extensive bibliographical endnotes. My question concerns the best way to handle these <Note> structures aggregated at the end of the document. Each note contains a number, a full bibliographical citation (author, title, journal name, volume/number/year+pages), and most often a link to the article if available online. The link (Link-OBJR) itself, the clickable area, is not the entire note body but only the web address of the article, i.e. the URL. Thus the structure looks like
<Lbl> 1 (2,3,…)
<Span>(s) author, title, journal name, volume/number/year+pages
<Span> url of the article

My question: Must the <Link> node have ALT text?
My reasoning: It would be annoyingly to the screen reader user to set ALT text on the link as the citation text (author+title+ journal name+volume/number/year+pages). That is already (and properly) the text of the Note- and will have just been read out to the user. It would be even more pointlessly redundant to use the text of the Link node (the URL) as an ALT text, of course.
SO I am tempted to specify NO alternative text for this <Link>, even though that will generate a PDF/UA accessibility failure in PAC3 (e.g.). I believe I could defend this decision if challenged.

Is this the best practice or is there some plausible alternative I have missed?
(For example, one crazy possibility would be to artifact away the citation text of the <Note> and use that as the ALT text of the <Link>! Is that actually beneficial to anyone, however? I think not.)

Your wisdom on this is most welcome!