The Problem With Invisible Links

While I’m talking so much about things related to web development, I thought I’d post a little rant about a subject that’s been bothering me for a while now.

Can developers please, please, please JUST STOP IT ALREADY WITH THE INVISIBLE LINKS! I often work with people who are looking at the screen. When I encounter links that they don’t see, this does absolutely nothing but ad confusion for both of us. If a link is not displayed on the screen, it should, at the absolute minimum, be labelled “invisible” by my screen reader. This will stop me from asking sighted counterparts to, say, click the “skip to main content link, then look two or three lines down,” when the skip to main content link only exists for screen readers. This results in exchanges like this:

them: “What skip to main content link?”

me: “the one at the top of the page.”

them: “I don’t see it.”

me: “It’s, like, the first link.”

them: “No, it isn’t.”

me: “Oh, never mind. Just skip down to the main article. Did I spell all those street names right in the second paragraph?”

them: “Nope. You’ve got an extra d in Dundas. Third line. Fourth word.”

me: “Hold on. I think my screen reader splits lines completely different from the browser.”

Congratulations, everyone! We have now reached the point, in accessible technology, where it is almost completely impossible for a blind person and a sighted person to communicate with one another about a web page. If anyone needs me, I’ll be over here in the corner, banging my head against the wall. It’s more productive than trying to work with my sighted classmates, some days.

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