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Links and repetitive content – Accessibility Guidelines

Accessibility 18F GSA

Links are commonly used to quickly navigate a site when someone is using assistive technology. Often, screen reader users won’t read through an entire page to find what they are looking for. They may simply move from link to link.

Things become problematic when links only make sense with additional context. Links such as ‘Click Here’ or ‘Read more’ don’t make sense without that visual context. It’s important that we inspect our sites for these types of links. These links can be made accessible using title or ARIA attributes, but this isn’t ideal. The best method for making links accessible is to write better link text.

The other issue screen reader and keyboard users come across is lengthy nav bars. These are usually made up of a list of links and compound menus. They can be quite lengthy to tab through. To alleviate these pains, a skip navigation link should be provided. This is the first focusable element on the page and jumps to an anchor with a tabindex=’-1’.


Testing #

Unique links #

  1. Identify all links on the page.
  2. Identify links with the same text.
    • If the link destinations are different, check for title or ARIA attributes that distinguish them.
  3. Identify links with generic text (‘Click here’, ‘
    • Check for the title or ARIA attributes to provide context or additional off-screen text.

Links that open in a new window #

  1. Identify links that open in new windows.
  2. Check for links with target=’_blank’.
  3. Verify that an indication is given accessibly. Some examples are:
    • <a href=’#’ target=’_blank’ aria-label=‘Opens in new window’>
    • <a href=’#’ target=’_blank’ title=‘Opens in new window’>
    • <a href=’#’ target=’_blank’>Link<span class=‘sr-only’>Opens in new window</span></a>
Skip navigation>

Skip navigation #

  1. First, compare the pages on the site for links that are repeated at the beginning of the tab order.
    • Skip Navigation is not needed if repetitive nav links are not used.
  2. If the Skip Navigation link is not visible, ensure it becomes visible when it has focus.
  3. Find the target of the skip navigation link.
    • Verify the target is a valid id.
    • Verify the target is after the repetitive content and before meaningful content.
    • Verify the target has a tabindex=’-1’ or is included in the tab order (such as a link or a button).
    • This ensures the element will receive focus when used.
  4. Activate the Skip Navigation link.
  5. If visual focus is after the repetitive content, the test is complete.
  6. If there is no visual focus, tab again to verify focus is after the repetitive content.