Links: Other accessibility considerations

Additional accessibility considerations for different types and characteristics of links.

On this page

By default, links open new pages in the same browser tab or window, and most of the time it’s best to leave it like that. Users can always choose to open a page in a new tab or window if they wish.

Users cannot always tell when a link has opened a page in a new window or tab. Sometimes they cannot easily find it among the other windows or tabs that are open. This can be disorienting.

Additionally, where a link opens a new tab or window, the user cannot just press the browser’s ‘Back’ button to return to the page they came from.

In some contexts, it’s better if a link opens in a new tab or window.

For example, if someone is filling out a form, loading the Terms and Conditions in the same tab would interrupt the process. In this scenario, the link to the Terms and Conditions should open in a new tab.

For more details, see:

If you’ve confirmed that it helps users to automatically open a link in a new tab or window, make sure that you warn the user.

For information on how to do this, see:

See the following considerations for links that include icons or images.

Understand when you should or should not use tabindex="-1" for the targets of in-page anchor links.

See In-page link targets and tabindex="-1" — Knowledge Area: Keyboard accessibility.

Learn how to create skip links that help keyboard users jump past repeated blocks of content or large groups of controls — see Web Content Type: Skip links.

Do not use the title attribute

Understand why using the title attribute on any element, including links, is problematic.

Ensure that your links can be activated easily on small touch screens and by users with mobility impairments.

Avoid creating disabled links — but if you must, then understand when and how to do this on rare occasions.

With links to image files, PDFs, office documents and audio or video files, always provide a meaningful accessible name that includes information about the file’s format and size.

This allows users to make an informed decision about whether or not to download a file.

It’s also helpful to provide an indication of what type of application or plugin they will need to use the file, and a link to any such software.

With links to non-HTML documents, including information about the file’s format and helps you meet the NZ Government Web Usability Standard.

Best practice is to include the information about the file directly in the link text itself. An alternative approach is to make sure that the information comes immediately after the link.

Examples of linking to a non-HTML document and providing the file format and size