dai11y 02/03/2023

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Here, here, and here

Martin Underhill digs into the issues associated with a writing style we’ve all seen on the web. Someone might write “You can find some songs I like [here], [here] and [here]”, where each “here” is a link to a separate song.

If you work in the field of accessibility, you’re likely no stranger to the issue of a “here” link, and the main reason it is an issue is that screen reader users have different tools to navigate web pages. Whilst sighted users might visually scan the page to see what’s interesting or relevant, a screen reader user might bring up a list of headings, or a list of links, displayed in isolation and out of context. Link text of “here” provides no clue as to what’s at the other end of the link, and multiple links with text “here” is even worse because there’s no way of distinguishing between them.

The “no idea what’s at the other end of the link” problem applies to sighted users too, who at best might hover over the link (assuming they’re on a desktop) and see a built in browser tooltip that shows the URL of the link. This is a WCAG failure, specifically of WCAG 2.1 Success Criterion 2.4.9 Link Purpose (Link Only), which stipulates that the purpose of each link should be identifiable from link text alone.

Other less obvious issues include reliance on memory; if you click on a ‘here’ link and then go back, how will you know which one you’ve already clicked? Not all sites implement :visited styles now.

Finally, another phenomenon is the ‘series of words links’, like “here are some [songs] [I] [like]”, which, though nicely succinct and at least with unique text this time, have their own issues. For example, it can be hard to know that there is more than one link, as visually it might look like a single link with text “songs I like”.

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