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How to Make Links Accessible

Links are everywhere. We use them in emails, Word documents, websites, Canvas pages, social media posts, and more. Here is a quick guide to creating links that are user-friendly for all, and accessible for people who use assistive technology.

  1. Don’t paste long URLs. Instead, select text and turn it into a hyperlink. (In most programs this can be done by selecting text, right clicking, and then finding a menu option for “hyperlink” or “insert link.”)

    Good: Digital Accessibility Resources

    Note: It’s okay to leave a URL as a URL if it is short and you want people to memorize it. For example:

  2. When you are choosing text for your link, choose text that describes what the user will find when they click. The link text should make sense even if you remove it from the context of surrounding sentences.

    Bad: For digital accessibility resources, click here.
    Good: Consult our Digital Accessibility Resources.

  3. Avoid using the same link text for multiple links that lead to different destinations.

    Bad: We have a guide for Word accessibility and a guide for PowerPoint accessibility.
    Good: We have guides for Word accessibility and PowerPoint accessibility.

  4. If you have multiple links on a page leading to the same destination, it is a best practice to use the same link text for each link.
  5. When linking to a downloadable file, it’s helpful to let your audience know the file type. You can list the file type in parentheses at the end of the link text, for example: CU Boulder Digital Accessibility Standards (PDF).

Did You Know? 

Screen readers, the software that many blind people use to read and interact with digital content, can navigate a file or webpage in a variety of ways. One way is using hotkeys to jump from link to link; this lets users quickly get an overview of the page content or find a specific hyperlink. When a screen reader user navigates by links, they should be able to find out where each link leads without reading the surrounding text, which is why descriptive link text is essential.

September Challenge

This month, when you add links to emails, documents, or webpages, try making the links accessible using the steps outlined above.