Links must have discernible text

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Rule Description

Link text (and alternate text for images, when used as links) must be discernible by a screen reader, must not have a duplicate label, and must be focusable.

The Algorithm, in Simple Terms

Ensures that every link has an accessible name

Why this is Important

Inaccessible link elements pose great barriers to accessibility, as they are a fundamental component of a website.

Users who rely exclusively on a keyboard (and no mouse) to navigate a webpage can only click on links that can receive programmatic focus. If a link cannot receive programmatic focus, it will be inaccessible to these users.

How to Fix the Problem

Ensure that all link names are accessible. It may be possible that the inner link text is not visible to a screen reader, that there are duplicate link labels, or that the link is not focusable.

Ensure all links can receive programmatic focus; for example, avoid device specific events (e.g. onmouseover).

Compliance Data & User Impact

User Impact: Critical
Disabilities Affected:
  • Blindness
  • Deafblindness
  • Mobility/Dexterity
Issue Type:
  • WCAG 2.0 (A): MUST
  • Section 508: MUST
WCAG Success Criteria:
  • 1.1.1 Non-text Content
  • 4.1.2 Name, Role, Value
  • 2.4.4 Link Purpose (In Context)
Section 508 Guidelines:
  • 1194.22 (a) Text equivalent for non-text elements

Related Deque University Course Pages

Other Related Resources

Additional Information

Relevant Technologies:
  • HTML 4
  • HTML 5
Relevant Custom Widget Type(s):
  • Link (ARIA)
Test Reliability: Automated testing is possible, with high accuracy
Rule ID: link-name