Using aria-labelledby for link purpose

Important Information about Techniques

See Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria for important information about the usage of these informative techniques and how they relate to the normative WCAG 2.1 success criteria. The Applicability section explains the scope of the technique, and the presence of techniques for a specific technology does not imply that the technology can be used in all situations to create content that meets WCAG 2.1.


Technologies that support Accessible Rich Internet Applications (WAI-ARIA).

This technique relates to Success Criterion 2.4.4: Link Purpose (In Context) (Sufficient as a way to meet an unwritten technique).


With the aria-labelledby attribute, authors can use a visible text element on the page as a label for a focusable element (a form control or a link). For example, a "read more..." link could be associated with the text of the heading of the preceding section to make the purpose of the link unambiguous (see example 1).

When associating text to a focusable element with the help of aria-labelledby, the target text element is given an ID which is referenced in the value of the aria-labelledby attribute of the focusable element.

It is also possible to use several text elements on the page as a label for a focusable element. Each of the text elements used must be given a unique ID which is referenced as a string of IDs (IDREF) in the value of the aria-labelledby attribute. The label text should then be concatenated following the order of IDs in the value of the aria-labelledby attribute.

When applied on links, aria-labelledby can be used to identify the purpose of a link that may be readily apparent for sighted users, but less obvious for screen reader users.

The specified behavior of aria-labelledby is that the associated label text is announced instead of the link text (not in addition to the link text). When the link text itself should be included in the label text, the ID of the link should be referenced as well in the string of IDs forming the value of the aria-labelledby attribute.

For more information on the naming hierarchy please consult the Accessible Name and Description Computation and the accessible name and description calculation for links in the HTML to Platform Accessibility APIs Implementation Guide.



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For each link that has an aria-labelledby attribute:

  1. Check that each ID in the value of the aria-labelledby attribute matches an ID of a text element used as part of the link purpose.
  2. Check that the combined value of the text referenced by the one or more ID's in the aria-labelledby attribute properly describes the purpose of the link element.

Expected Results

  • Checks #1 and #2 are true.