- Online courses
Links connect resources on the Internet. When adding links to web pages, digital documents, or online courses, there are best practices for ensuring those links are accessible to users with disabilities.
Links vs buttons
On web pages, links and buttons are different elements, which serve different purposes:
- Links take the user to a new location, such as a new web page or new section of the current page.
- Buttons trigger some action, such as showing content on the page that was previously hidden, playing a video, or submitting a form.
This distinction matters because it affects user expectations. For additional information, see our techniques page on Links and buttons on websites.
Meaningful link text
Link text should be unique within a page, should be meaningful when read out of context, and should help users to know something about their destination if they click on it. Consider the various ways users interact with links:
- Screen reader users sometimes navigate web pages and documents using the tab key, in which case they jump between links, buttons, and form fields. When they land on a link, their screen reader announces “link” and reads the link text. This should be sufficient information for users to form a reasonable expectation of what will happen if they follow the link.
- Screen reader users can generate a list of links and navigate them in their order on the page, or sort them alphabetically (see screenshot below). Redundant or ambiguous link text such as “Click here” or “Read more” is meaningless in this context.
- Users of voice input technology can select a link with a voice command like “click” followed by the link text. Therefore, it is also helpful to use unique link text that is short and easy to say.
Try to always use link text that meets the criteria explained above. For example, consider the following sentence, where the link text “click here” does not meet the criteria:
For more information about Husky Athletics, click here.
A better approach would be to rephrase the sentence so that “Husky Athletics” is the link text:
For more information, see Husky Athletics.
URLs as link text
URLs should generally be avoided as link text. They are difficult for screen reader users to understand and difficult for voice input users to express.
Short URLs can sometimes be an exception. For example, “washington.edu” is easy to understand and easy to say.
The problem of using buttons and links interchangeably (and incorrectly) is unique to web pages. Therefore, our techniques pages for Documents and Canvas focus exclusively on issues related to links.
WCAG 2.1 success criteria
The issues described on this page, and associated Techniques pages, map to the following success criteria in the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1:
- 2.4.4 Link Purpose (In Context) (Level A)
- 2.5.3 Label in Name (Level A)