Day 18: Creating Accessible Hyperlinks

doorway with sign saying "Internet Open"
One of the great benefits of creating digital content is the ability to use hyperlinks and make things interactive. How you describe your link text makes a different for accessibility. Using language like click here or learn more for your link text does not provide the necessary context and guidance for screen reader users to effectively interact with your content.

Screen readers will announce a link and then read the text that is linked. Here's a scenario for a sentence linking to more information about captioning.
The latter example provides context for your users. Your user would that the link was taking them to tutorials about captioning on YouTube.  The first example with the link text, learn more here, doesn't provide much guidance or context for where "here" is taking the user and what exactly they will learn there. For greater accessibility, it is important to write link text that provides users information as to the purpose of the link.

For your reference, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 that addresses hyperlinks reads as follows: 2.4.4 Link Purpose (In Context): The purpose of each link can be determined from the link text alone or from the link text together with its programmatically determined link context, except where the purpose of the link would be ambiguous to users in general. (Level A)

Today's challenge is to look at a piece of recently created digital content with links and ask yourself whether the purpose of each link is clear?  If not, make necessary revisions. WebAIM offers more guidance about Accessible Links and Hypertext.

This is an accessibility practice that I am working on improving within my own practice. Just like alt tags for images, descriptive links causes the creator to stop for a moment and really reflect on the purpose of the link and the best way to communicate that. When adopting any of these new create accessibility practice into your digital workflow, it takes time and repeated exposures for these practices to become more fluid. 

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