Meaningful links 2.4.5

I provide this email that was sent to me by a screen reader user regarding
meaningful links.

-----Original Message-----
From: Darold Lindquist  
Sent: Friday, January 06, 2006 12:25 PM
To: David MacDonald
Subject: Re: 2.4.5

I have  been a screen reader user for more than 
15 years and have worked as a Technology 
Accessibility consultant on accessibility related 
projects for the past six years. From my 
experience, here are some quick thoughts on the 
usefulness of meaningful links on the web for screen reader users.

Providing meaningful link text as the association 
to the target, still benefits the navigation 
decision making process and overall user 
experience. Since jumping between links or 
listing the links are still commonly 
used  navigation techniques on pages, links that 
can be read out of context are useful for these 
users. Meaningful links are especially useful 
when accessing infrequently visited or new web 
sites. For more frequently visited sites, easily 
recognizable links provide familiar 
landmarks  for memorizing and quicker site navigation.

    * Curretly, screen readers in their default 
installations do not deliver consistent 
presentations of tool tip techniques such as 
the title attribute, that can  provide 
supplemental information on elements such as 
links. So, the displayed link text remains a 
significant navigation feature on web sites.

* For example, users tabbing through links 
or, accessing the links through some AT user 
agent's links list feature only receive the 
content of the displayed link text. In these 
cases, As the user moves through the available 
links on the page, they are not receiving any 
of the related information that may be 
contained in surrounding paragraph text. 
Concise links that provide some meaningful text 
about the destination will always be more 
useful to them than the more ambiguous "click here" type links.

To further illustrate this point, a comparison 
may be made between links on a web page and an 
inaccessible form with multiple input fields. For 
an inaccessible form, users will tab through the 
fields, but may only hear an "Enter Text" prompt 
for each of the input fields. The user can use 
the AT's reading functions to examine the page 
more closely, determine what label is associated 
with each field, and then enter the appropriate 
text. A similar user experience occurs when links 
on web pages give choices of go here or click 
here. Screen readers do identify links and users 
can determine where links are bringing them by 
examining the surrounding text more closely. But, 
for novice or less technical users, this often 
degrades the user experience resulting in an 
exercise in frustration. For screen reader users, 
links that provide some information about their 
destination are always better than links that 
contain no relevant information at all.

* Requiring that links contain text that 
orients the user to the purpose or content of 
the destination is beneficial to this user 
group and should remain prominent in WCAG version 2.0.

Darold Lindquist

Received on Friday, 6 January 2006 17:41:35 UTC