RE: SC 2.4.5, meaningful link text

I also believe meaningful link text is extremely important, and in fact
have been nervous about the proposed exception in this thread. Some of
the reasons for importance have been outlined-the fact that it may or
may not be possible in a given situation to access surrounding context
easily, and the pain of having to do so repeatedly. I would add or
strengthen the idea that, on pages with many unclear links, it can be
difficult to know whether it is important to access surrounding context
for a given link, and is a huge burden to do so for every one. Also,
since you may not know whether the relevant context occurs before or
after the link, you might have to explore in two directions per link.
All of this can make it disproportionately difficult to take advantage
of the hypertext nature of the Web. 


I can think of two cases in which there is a desire to make exceptions
to the requirement for clear link text. One is the one under discussion
here, where alternate formats of the same document are provided and it
is desirable to indicate the format rather than the specific document in
subsequent links. Another case is where tabular data in a web
application requires interaction, and it is common for all cells in a
column to contain links with the same link text, contextualized by one
or more of the other columns in the table. For example, a column may
include "properties" links for each row of the table, or something.
These both might count as arrays of related material. 


However, I think these still make it difficult to use, enough that we
need a guideline for it. I also think there are adequate techniques to
get around the problem. One of course would be simply to make all links
clear enough on their own, even if that makes them a little bit longer.
Another would be to use "conditional content" a.k.a. the "title"
attribute in HTML to provide optional clarification-I interpret that as
being completely in the scope of the success criterion as written, which
only requires that the content "is associated", not specifically how
(this was done on purpose when a subgroup I was involved in hashed it
out). A third technique would be to provide an invisible image with alt
text inside the link that adds the clarification information-very useful
until the day that "title" attribute is supported by AT the way we'd all
like it to be. Of course the techniques would be different in non-HTML
technologies but I think it's possible to come up with them pretty


So in summary I would say the requirement for clear link text is very
important, and can be achieved in ways that need not give heartburn to
developers who want the "standard" presentation of their links to be
briefer and more context-dependent.



Received on Thursday, 5 January 2006 15:37:39 UTC