Links: Other accessibility considerations
Additional accessibility considerations for different types and characteristics of links.
On this page
- Open links in the same tab or window
- Icon and image links
- In-page (or anchor) links
- Skip links
- Do not use the
- Link target size
- Disabled links
- Links to non-HTML documents
Open links in the same tab or window
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.
When to open links in new tabs or windows
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:
- Opening Links in New Browser Windows and Tabs — Nielsen Norman Group
- Link Targets and 3.2.5 — Adrian Roselli
- G200: Opening new windows and tabs from a link only when necessary — WCAG 2 — W3C.
Warn user if link opens in new tab or window
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:
- Supporting it Anyway — Link Targets and 3.2.5 — Adrian Roselli
- G201: Giving users advanced warning when opening a new window — WCAG 2 — W3C.
Icon and image links
See the following considerations for links that include icons or images.
- Functional Images —W3C
- Image elements within links — Contextually Marking up accessible images and SVGs — Scott O’Hara
- Accessible icon links — Kitty Giraudel
- How icons are ruining interfaces — Axess Lab
In-page (or anchor) links
Understand when you should or should not use
tabindex="-1" for the targets of in-page anchor links.
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
Understand why using the
title attribute on any element, including links, is problematic.
- Using the HTML title attribute — Updated March 2020 — TPGi
- The Trials and Tribulations of the Title Attribute — 24 Accessibility
- I thought title text improved accessibility. I was wrong. — Silktide
Link target size
Ensure that your links can be activated easily on small touch screens and by users with mobility impairments.
- Understanding Success Criterion 2.5.5: Target Size — WCAG 2 — W3C
- Looking at WCAG 2.5.5 for Better Target Sizes — CSS-Tricks
- 2.5.5 Target Size (AAA) — Deque University
Avoid creating disabled links — but if you must, then understand when and how to do this on rare occasions.
Links to non-HTML documents
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.