Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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H78: Identifying the purpose of a link using link text combined with its enclosing paragraph


All technologies that contain links.

This technique relates to:

User Agent and Assistive Technology Support Notes

JAWS 5.0 and later includes the following keystrokes:

If alt+numPad5 is pressed when a link has focus, the sentence is read without changing the focus.

If Ctrl+NumPad 5 is pressed when the link has focus, the entire paragraph is read without changing the focus.

Window-Eyes 5.5 has hotkeys to read the current sentence and current paragraph.

To surf the internet with WindowEyes you must be in browse mode. Current sentence and current paragraph hot keys do not work in browse mode in version 6.1.

The factory default settings for reading surrounding link context are as follows:

Desktop settings:


The "speak parent element" command in Fire Vox (Ctrl+Shift+u) works without changing the focus. Fire Vox is a free screen reader designed specifically for Firefox 1.0 and later. It supports Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.


The objective of this technique is to identify the purpose of a link from the link in its paragraph context. The paragraph enclosing the link provides context for an otherwise unclear link when the paragraph is the nearest enclosing block-level ancestor element. The description lets a user distinguish this link from links in the Web page that lead to other destinations and helps the user determine whether to follow the link. Note that simply providing the URI of the destination is generally not sufficiently descriptive.

Note: These descriptions will be most useful to the user if the additional information needed to understand the link precedes the link. If the additional information follows the link, there can be confusion and difficulty for screen reader users who are reading through the page in order (top to bottom).


Example 1

Announcements column on a Folk Festival Web page.

Example Code:

<h3>The final 15</h3>
<p>Coming soon to a town near you...the final 15 in the 
National Folk Festival lineup.
<a href="final15.html">[Read more...]</a>

<h3>Folk artists get awards</h3>
<p>Performers from the upcoming National Folk Festival receive 
 National Heritage Fellowships. 
 <a href="nheritage.html">[Read more...]</a>


No resources available for this technique.



For each link in the content that uses this technique:

  1. Check that the link is part of a paragraph.

  2. Check that text of the link combined with the text of its enclosing paragraph describes the purpose of the link.

Expected Results

If this is a sufficient technique for a success criterion, failing this test procedure does not necessarily mean that the success criterion has not been satisfied in some other way, only that this technique has not been successfully implemented and can not be used to claim conformance.

Techniques are Informative

Techniques are informative—that means they are not required. The basis for determining conformance to WCAG 2.0 is the success criteria from the WCAG 2.0 standard—not the techniques. For important information about techniques, please see the Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria section of Understanding WCAG 2.0.