Creating Nonvisually Accessible Documents

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Meaningful Link Text

It is important to remember to create links that make sense to screen access users. Many screen access products allow users to pull up a list of links in a document or webpage, and sometimes users will tab through the links on a page in order to get a feel for the page, or to look for specific types of content. In order to allow users to quickly find the information they are seeking when using these skimming tools, there are several best practices that can and should be employed when creating links. Once again, like most other topics in this article, creating meaningful link text will also assist other users of your site who may be merely skimming for information.

  • Avoid ambiguous link text, like “click here”, “go,” or “here”. Creating links with meaningful text will require a little extra thought on wording when writing content, but will make for clearer content for all users. It also makes creation of multi-format documents easier, because link text is largely a web technology that may not appear in a PDF or Word document of the same content (though it certainly could if the creator so chose).

  • Avoid duplicate link text. If there are several “go” links on a webpage, a user skimming the content, (blind or sighted) will have to stop and review context to make sense of where they are going.

  • Use consistent, commonly used link text for common purposes whenever possible. For instance, most web pages offer a link to “Contact Us” or “Contact” which leads to a contact page. Many screen access users will be able to jump directly to links that begin with a particular letter, and when looking for contact information will try the “C” key in order to find this information quickly. Similarly, when creating a web page it is important to use the same link titles to reach the same destinations no matter what page a user is on (unless this would break a path or a process). For instance, all pages on a shopping site may want to have links to the “Shopping Cart”, product categories, and “Sales”.

  • Keep link text short and to the point. Giving too much information in a link makes it more difficult to read, and makes it less clear.

  • Avoid using the words “link to” when creating link text. Screen access packages already announce links, and this will help to avoid redundancy. “Link Contact Us” is more pleasant to hear (or read) than “Link Link to Contact Us”.

  • Do not create empty links. Links should always contain text, or graphics, (with appropriate alt text) or they will be confusing to keyboard and screen access users.

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