Website Accessibility

The words that you use as the text in a link is very important for many different reasons, accessibility being one of them. The following are things to consider when looking at link text.

Links Must Make Sense out of Context

Take the following sentence for example:

In this case, the link text of "Click Here" doesn't make sense out of context, and is therefore an accessibility violation. If that was the only information you received, there would be no way of knowing what the link is taking you too. A better way of writing that same link is:

Now just reading that link text, you have a pretty good idea of what information you will receive by clicking on the link. So the first thing to consider when writing a link is to never use words exclusively that are generic. For example, never use words such as the following as the link text:

No URLs as Links

Using the URL as link text is also something we want to avoid doing. For example, this link:

Both of those links take you to the same place, but the second link is much easier to read and understand. Worse, screen reading programs will read each and every letter of the first URL to the user, rather than the words. For short URLs that is probably fine, but for longer ones, reading every letter can be quite annoying to the user. (As a side note, for SEO purposes, the URL as link gives us no benefit, while the words do, so its better to use the words.)

No Duplicate Link Text to Different Destinations

Consider the following two links:

Those two links actually take you to two different web pages, but just by reading the text, you would have no way of knowing that. The rules further states that you can't have two links on the same page that go to different locations (the opposite, having many links with different text going to the same location, is fine though).

Where this gets confusing though, is that this refers to the entire page, not just the body copy section. So you have to pay attention to every link on the page not just the ones that you are editing. For the school of medicine website, that means that putting a link such as Patient Care that doesn't take you to our main patient care page isn't allowed. So a slight modification to the link text to read Internal Medicine Patient Care would solve this problem.

However, there are times where this can't be avoided. In this case, we can add a "title" attribute to the link, which will then be displayed when you mouse over the link (and read to screen readers).

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