Making Link Text More Accessible to Visually Impaired Users

It may be possible that a student is in your course who utilizes some form of screen-reader or magnifier to access online material. One feature of a typical screen-reader is that the visually-impaired user can configure it to read all of the links on a page before reading the text of the page. This is great for students who are revisiting a section of your course -- they don't have to listen to a whole page being read in order to go to a site or document to which you've linked.

The feature of pulling links first is not so great if the link text doesn't give the student any idea what the link may deliver. Imagine hearing a list of links with text that reads, "Click here," or (letter by letter) for  "http://www.beyondsight.com/downloads.php."

This link text may be perfectly understandable when accompanied by the text on the page, but when it is separated from that text, it could be hard to know or remember why the link is useful.

To meet Section 508 standards, your link text should be precise and descriptive, but not long, and make sense when written out of context.

Here are some commonly used link texts and a possible improvement:

Common Link Text Alternative
here Rutgers People Search
click here Today's Weather
Read more Explore our online degree programs
link to http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1/180-0694361-9349856?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=ipad Search Amazon.com for an iPad

 

How to change existing links in Pearson Learning Studio

Go to the Author side of the Text/Multimedia-type Content Item, and on the Design side of the Visual Editor, highlight the underlined link and type what you want as the new link. Change "Click here" to "Fact Sheet for Web Content Accessibility Guidelines." Change "http://www.beyondsight.com/downloads.php" to something like "free demos of adaptive technology software." Save Changes before going to another page or checking the Course side of the page.

Expanding your link text is a quick and easy way to make small alterations to your course that will result in better ease-of-use for the visually-impaired student (and for your sighted students as well!).

Additional Resources:

  • WebAIM Links and Hypertext:  Web Accessibility in Mind's mission is to expand the potential of the web for people with disabilities by providing the knowledge, technical skills, tools, organizational leadership strategies, and vision that empower organizations to make their own content accessible to people with disabilities. Please click the link for information regarding links and hypertexts.
  • Designing for Inclusion by World Wide Web Consortium Web Accessibility Initiative which introduces detailed examples of people with different disabilities using websites, applications, browsers, and authoring tools.
Resource: 
4