Core Principle: Link text should be unique, concise, and descriptive of the link destination.

What are accessible lists?

Lists are collections of items that can either be ordered (intended to be read in a particular sequence) or unordered. Ordered lists are typically presented as numbered or lettered lists. Unordered lists are typically presented with bullet points. 

When you use lists, ensure that they are properly formatted in your content creation software as the appropriate type of list. This can typically be done using a list button in the content editor toolbar.

Below is an example of a properly formatted unordered list:

  • cats
  • dogs
  • bears

Below is an inaccessible unordered list that is not properly formatted:

* cats

* dogs

* bears

Why are accessible lists important?

A reader who is blind will not perceive the visual cues that help a sighted reader understand that a set of items should be considered as a group. When a person who is blind and using a screen reader comes across an accessible list, the first thing they will hear is something like “list, 8 items”. This helps orient them to the fact that they are entering a list, and how long it is. If this information is not available, it may be confusing as to why there is a random string of words like “apple orange banana” in the middle of a document.

How do I make an accessible list?

Most content editors have buttons available that can create properly formatted lists. Some content editors will automatically create accessible lists when you type an asterisk followed by the space bar, or 1. followed by the space bar. 

One way to determine whether you have created an accessible list is to move the cursor somewhere within the list, then find the list button in the content editor toolbar. If the list button is selected, then you have an accessible list.

Another way to determine whether you are in an accessible list or not is to go to the end of the line of a list item and hit Enter. If doing so causes the next line to automatically have a bullet point or number created, then you have an accessible list. If the next line is totally blank, then the editor does not recognize that you are creating a list and you should select the entire list and select the appropriate list button in the editor. Watch the short video below for an example in Microsoft Word with ordered lists: