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Accessibility - Links and Hypertext

Making hypertext links accessible is one of the most basic and most important aspects of web accessibility.  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.

Screen Readers and Links
Screen reader users often navigate from link to link, skipping the text in between. Links should make sense out of context. Phrases such as "click here," "more," "click for details," and so on are ambiguous when read out of context. At the same time, it would be overkill to ensure that every detail about a link destination is discernible by listening to the link context. Place the distinguishing information of links at the beginning of a link. Don't put extra information first, For example, don't say "Link opens in a new window: Products." Instead, say "Products (opens in a new window)".

Most screen readers say "link" before each link. For example, a "products" link would be read as "link products" by JAWS. Links do not need to include "link" in the link text, because all users already know that the link is a link.



URLs as Links
URLs are not always human-readable or screen-reader friendly. Many URLs contain combinations of numbers, letters, ampersands, dashes, underscores, and other characters that make sense to scripts and databases but which make little or no sense to the average person. In most cases, it is better to use human-readable text instead of the URL. The human readable link Constructing Accessible Web Sites is more user-friendly than the link to purchase the book by the same title on Amazon.com, which consists of a 108-character link full of numbers, slashes, and text that is not very human-readable. (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1590591488/qid=1116957951/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/103-5755258-8204633)



Keyboard Accessibility of Links
Users must be able to navigate to and select each link using the keyboard alone. In most browsers, the Tab key allows users to jump from link to link, and the Enter key allows users to select a link. If the only way to access a link is with a mouse, the link is unusable by people who cannot use a mouse. 


Content from webaim.org