A Guide to Creating Accessible and Meaningful Web Content
Welcome back to our series on building accessible websites with native HTML! In this fourth installment, we’ll be discussing the importance of accessible links using semantic HTML.
Links are a fundamental part of the web, providing users with the ability to navigate between pages, access additional resources, and interact with content. However, for users with disabilities, including those who use screen readers, links can present significant accessibility challenges. By using semantic HTML and following accessibility best practices, we can create links that are more inclusive and easier to use for everyone.
Semantic HTML and Accessible Link Text
The first step in creating accessible links is to use semantic HTML. Semantic HTML is the practice of using HTML elements that accurately describe the content and function of the web page. When it comes to links, this means using the <a> element, which is specifically designed to create clickable links.
In addition to using the <a> element, it’s important to ensure that the link text accurately describes the destination or function of the link. This is particularly important for users who rely on screen readers, as they will often navigate the page using only the links on the page. When creating link text, avoid using generic phrases like “click here” or “read more,” and instead use descriptive text that clearly communicates the purpose of the link.
For example, instead of “Click here to learn more about our products,” use “Learn more about our products.” This provides more context for users who may be navigating the page using only links.
For more information on Semantic HTML, you can check out my previous blog post here.
Digitally Accessible Experiences: Why It Matters and How to Create Them
It’s more critical than ever that your digital assets are easily accessible and usable to all of your users. Adopting an accessibility-first design mindset can help your business create a stronger digital presence and an enhanced user experience for all users and ultimately drive more business.
Link Structure and Focusability
In addition to using semantic HTML and descriptive link text, it’s also important to consider the structure and focusability of links. When creating links, ensure that they are visually distinguishable from surrounding text, using CSS styles like color, underline, or bold text to make them stand out. This helps users with low vision or cognitive disabilities to easily identify links on the page.
When using images as links, be sure to include descriptive alt text that accurately describes the destination or function of the Link . This alt text will be read by screen readers, allowing users to understand the purpose of the link even if they cannot see the image.
Finally, ensure that links are focusable using the keyboard. Users who rely on keyboard navigation may have difficulty accessing links that cannot be reached using the tab key. To ensure that links are keyboard accessible, use the tab index attribute to specify the order in which links should be focused, and ensure that links can be activated using the enter key.
Creating accessible links using semantic HTML is an important part of building inclusive websites that can be used by everyone. By using descriptive link text, ensuring that links are visually distinguishable and focusable, and following other accessibility best practices, we can create links that are easier to use for users with disabilities, as well as for all users.
For more information on why web accessibility is important in general, you can check out my previous blog post here.
For further information on how to make your product accessible to your audience, contact our experience design experts, check out our Accessibility IQ for your website, download our guide Digitally Accessible Experiences: Why It Matters and How to Create Them, read more from our UX for Accessible Design series.
So, What Comes Next?
In our next installment, we’ll be discussing the importance of accessible images, and how to create images that are inclusive and easy to use for everyone. Stay tuned!
Follow my next post: Accessible Images Using Semantic HTML: Building Accessible Websites with Native HTML Part 5 of 5.