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Clear link text - my thoughts

From: Yvette P. Hoitink <y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl>
Date: Thu, 1 Jul 2004 20:09:03 +0200
To: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-Id: <20040701180708.54312A1E8A@frink.w3.org>

Hi list,

In preparation for tonight's meeting I'm writing my thoughts on clear link
text. 

The first question I have is why do we have this criterion? Is it just so
blind people can use a list of links to navigate? Or is it the people with
cognitive problems as well? One of the counterexamples I've heard for this
SC is 'read more...' links after the first few sentences of an article on a
front page. These links will make sense to people who will look at the page
but will not to people who use links out of context, for instance in a links
list in a screenreader. 

If blind people are the reason we have this SC, there are other ways besides
the TITLE-attribute of the link to make the link clear for them. You can
simple add a spacer image after the text, but within the anchor, with an
appropriate ALT-text. We have used this technique on our own corporate
homepage (http://www.heritas.nl) where each "lees verder" (read more) link
has an invisible image behind it which says something like "about the X
project". This works for blind people but does not provide the more
explanatory full link text to people with cognitive disabilities. For that
reason, we also put a title on the link, which says "information about the X
project", which appears on mouse-over in most graphical browsers. I think
this combination works pretty well, even if the link text is replaced by the
title in some browsers. 

Perhaps we should first ask ourselves what link text is exactly? In my
example with "Read more" as text and "about the X project" in invisible
ALT-text, I think most novices would call "Read more" the link text, not
"Read more about the X project", even though that's what presented to the
(blind) user. So what do we define as link text: all the text between the
<a> and the </a> or doesn't alt-text of invisible images count? 

And what about CSS 3 techniques? You can give the link an ID, for example <a
href="projectX.html" id="projectX">Read more</a> and using CSS3 to add
content after that link saying "about project X". This way, the link text
can depend on the media type of the user, further confusing the issue. 

Yvette Hoitink
Heritas, Enschede, the Netherlands
E-mail: y.p.hoitink@heritas.nl
WWW: http://www.heritas.nl
Received on Thursday, 1 July 2004 14:07:09 UTC

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