Web Accessibility: Links

When you click a link on a website, what is that link? What is it made of? The W3schools website defines a link as “a link between a document and an external resource.” A link is basically an established relationship between one document (HTML, CSS, etc.) and another. A link is one of the many roads to travel on the World Wide Web.

While links are easy to include in a Post or Page, they are too easy. In fact, it is not hard to overlook a very important part of links: web accessibility. According to the W3C Web Accessibility Initiative, web accessibility is defined as an initiative to help “people with disabilities” navigate, use, and contribute to the web. Despite the fact that the initiative is mainly for people with disabilities, web accessibility also helps people without disabilities:

Web accessibility also benefits people without disabilities. For example, a key principle of Web accessibility is designing Web sites and software that are flexible to meet different user needs, preferences, and situations. This flexibility also benefits people without disabilities in certain situations, such as people using a slow Internet connection, people with “temporary disabilities” such as a broken arm, and people with changing abilities due to aging.
W3C Web Accessibility Initiative

Both people with and without disabilities benefit from web accessibility. Web accessibility has often been on the back burner when it should have been in the forefront of the web.

So how do we start making links more web accessible? It is actually very simple. All you need at the bare minimum is the title attribute. What does this attribute do exactly? This attribute allows the description in the title part of the link to be read out loud by a screen reader and it can describe the link far more clearly for the user before being clicked.

A mouse cursor hovering over "Amazon.com" and displaying the "title" text.

Why is a screen reader so important? It is a gateway to the Internet for the blind and visually impaired. According to the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB), a screen reader is a program which allows blind and visually impaired users to access, explore, and contribute to the World Wide Web. More specifically, screen readers “allow blind or visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the computer screen with a speech synthesizer.” For this specific group of users, screen readers allow them to be a part of the interconnected world.

So when should you start making your links more accessible? Now is a good time.

For more information on Web Accessibility and Links with regards to WordPress:

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