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Hyperlinks and Accessibility

HTML, the language of the web has made interlinking possible by providing anchor tags, popularly known as a hyperlink. On any webpage, you will always find at least one hyperlink. There are three types of hyperlinks, the link which when clicked opens another web page or document, bookmark link that points to a place on the same web page and command link that initiates some function or action when clicked.

Links do not always contain text within opening and closing anchor tags. They often contain a graphic to convey the purpose of the link. Hyperlinks pose an accessibility problem when the purpose of the link can not be conveyed completely and appropriately to a user, especially a disabled user. To appreciate these accessibility challenges, let us first understand the classification of hyperlinks on the basis of the HTML markup being used to include hyperlinks.

To go over this we have classified into three parts as below.

  1. Simple text links
    In case of simple text links, the most predominant accessibility problem is that the link text does not convey the purpose when reading without the context of surrounding text. “Click here” links are the best example.
  2. Graphical or image links
    In case of image links, the most frequent accessibility gap is the absence of text alternatives for the graphical content. In this case, a screen reader will announce the value of the “src” attribute of “IMG” tag. This information is rarely useful to the user for the understanding purpose of the link. There are multiple techniques to provide the text alternative. The simplest amongst them is to set the appropriate value of the “alt” attribute of the image.
  3. Java script links
    The main problem with these links is that many such links do not go anywhere but only activate some javascript functions. This behavior is confusing for all users, from the discussions above it should be obvious that it is easy to incorporate accessibility in hyperlinks if we pay attention to the specific requirement for each type of hyperlink.


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