Practical, Entry-Level Accessibility

An excellent article by Mike Cherim at Accesssites.org today talks about the basics of accessibility. It is the type of article you want to bookmark and use as a reading assignment for your students. One of the most interesting sections of the article is when he describes the proper use of link text. He said,

Redundant Link Phrases

Don’t use the same link phrase more than once unless it leads to the same place and be descriptive of where the link goes. In other words don’t use link phrase terms like “read more about this topic” more than once unless the link phrase happens to lead to the same place.

Descriptive Link Phrases

As suggested above, be descriptive with your link phrases. All too common links phrases such as “click here” simply aren’t enough. You’ll be making users click on links just to find out where they lead. Even if you feel the context adequately explains where “click here” goes, on the web they may be removed from the context which defines them.

Link Separation

Separate your links by not making them consecutive. Putting even a lowly comma between them will satisfy this requirement. If they’re not used inline with text content, often the best solution is to organize them in an unordered list as mentioned previously as this easily provides the needed separation. Even as list-organized links, they can be styled horizontally with a simply entry in the page’s style sheet thus meeting the needs of your visual layout.

Link Identification

Underlining your links is conventional, widely accepted, and the best of all a recognized methods. While underlined links aren’t absolutely necessary and you may choose to offer them another way, do make them apparent and keep them uniform, just don’t depend on color alone to make this so.

Link Interactivity

Make sure your links are interactive. This may be accomplished by removing the link underline when a user hovers over them with a mouse or focuses on them with their keyboard – which is something even some seasoned developers tend to overlook. The interactive styling depends on their static styling so create a dramatic-enough change. But try not to make this interactivity depend solely on color alone unless said links belong to a very distinctive grouping such as a well-marked navigation list.

Despite claiming that the article is entry-level, Cherim addresses many of the major points involved in accessiblility. A good review, or a good introduction, no matter how you approach it.

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