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Creating Accessible LibGuides

What are best practices for using links in my LibGuide?

Link text should be unique within a page, meaningful when read out of context, and clear about their destination to users who read the text.

Doing this not only helps low-vision and blind web users, but also tends to make your content look more cohesive. Here are some basic guidelines to follow:

  • Never insert the link address itself into the text of a page. A screen-reader will read out each letter and symbol in the link and make it an unintelligible mess.
  • Never use phrases like “click here”, “learn more”, and so on. Screen-reader users often save time by having their program scan through a page to extract all of its hyperlinks. If they are all entitled “here”, it is impossible for them to determine the content of each link.
  • Make the hyperlink meaningful. In other words, make sure to integrate the link into the text such that users can understand without context what the link will lead to.
  • However, when making email hyperlinks, do not integrate them into the text.

Users with processing difficulties or who utilize screen-readers may encounter your hyperlinks out of context. If your hyperlinks all say the same thing and/or say nothing about their destinations, this bars the user from interacting with your content is a more navigable way. See below for further details.

How do I create contextual links?

Make sure linked text makes sense out of context.

Avoid vague phrases like "click here" or "this link" in link text, especially when the destination isn't included in the link text. Ambiguous phrasing can obscure the purpose and destination of the link.

Only ever include the location of the destination in mail-to email links (e.g. laiweb@gwu.edu). Otherwise, never include a URL.

Examples

Bad:

Click here for directions.
Learn more about accessibility on this page.
More information is available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Screen_reader.
Email the web team for more information

 

Better:

Web content accessibility standards are available online.

 

Best:

See the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Overview to learn more about accessibility standards.
More information about screen-readers can be found on Wikipedia.
For more information, email the web team at laiweb@gwu.edu.

Common Link-Related Errors

Description

It appears that color is the only distinguishing feature about links in a block of text. For example:

In the context of this sentence, the only way you can determine that this is a hyperlink is by color.

This only applies to links that are visually part of a block of text. Menu items, etc. should not be considered here.

 

How to fix it:

Scan the page for hyperlinks that are distinguished only by color. In the current version of the rich text editor, an effect that underlines links on mouse-over should automatically be applied to all links. The absence of this effect is likely a hold-over from older versions of the editor. To fix this, remove the hyperlink from the text, save, reapply the hyperlink, and save.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Description

The same link text is used for links going to different destinations.

Addressing this is important because screen readers provide a commonly-used option for users to navigate from hyperlink-to-hyperlink. This is so the user doesn't have to listen to three whole paragraphs to find that one link again. However if there are three different hyperlinks, all with the link text "Company Website," suddenly this is useless and can be even more confusing.

There is one major exception to this rule. In pages that list items, each with their own set of similar links, those auxiliary links can have the same text. This is because the links around them provide sufficient context to indicate the destination. For example:

University Bodies Tasked with Accessibility:

Libraries and Academic Innovation      |   Contact form

Disability Support Services                  |   Contact form

Transportation and Parking Services   |   Contact form

Academic Technologies                       |   Contact form

 

How to fix it:

Scan the page for two or more hyperlinks with the same text. Once you've found them, do the following:

  1. Make sure they're not meant to be the same link. Sometimes small, meaningless differences (e.g. "https://www.google.com" and "www.google.com") will still get flagged as errors.
  2. Make sure they're not text that is repeatedly used in the page on purpose (e.g. a staff page with a "Contact" hyperlink after each name).
  3. If 1 and 2 are not the case, change the text of the hyperlinks to more clearly distinguish between them (e.g. change two "NYT Archives" to one "NYT Archives (1970-1990)" and one "NYT Archives (1990-2010)").

Repeat this for every instance.

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