Accessibility Guidelines

Link text describes the destination or function of the link

When users encounter links, it is important that the text of the link be meaningful enough to allow them to decide whether to follow the link or not. Ideally, link text should be the title of the page the link leads to, or the title of the article or document the link opens. Paraphrasing is also possible if link text needs to be shortened, but users should be able to make the connection between the meaning in the link text and the meaning in the resulting page title so they can confirm they’ve reached the expected web page or document.

You have likely encountered “click here” links, or other meaningless terms or phrases used as links, while using websites. These links on their own provide no useful information about the destination of the link. These links make it more difficult for all users, with or without a disability, to determine where the link leads to. Accessibility reviewers often cringe when they see these links. They are a dead giveaway that the author or developer is not attending to accessibility.

There are occasions when meaningless text can be used, but only when the surrounding context provides the meaning. You might encounter such cases on news websites with a collection of headlines, each followed by a brief introduction to the article and then a “more” link a user can click on to read the full article. In this case, if the headline itself is a link to the article, it will typically be read just before the “more” link gets read. As a result, users will usually be able to make the connection between the two links. Context does not include describing where the link leads in the surrounding text. In such a case a user would have to exit the link list and search through the surrounding text to figure out where the link leads, resulting in unnecessary effort.

Though it is acceptable to use meaningless links when context adds meaning, it is still better for link text to be meaningful on its own. Screen readers can list the links on a page, much like they can list headings. They can also sort links alphabetically to help users find a particular link based on its first letters. In such a case a user might end up with a long list of “more, more more” links that no longer have context to add meaning.


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What You Can Do to Remove Barriers on the Web Copyright © 2020 by Toronto Metropolitan University, The Chang School is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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