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A "click here" link with aria-describedby attribute Screen reader compatibility

Last updated: December 27, 2017

Expected Result: works in a screen reader

Actual Result: causes problems in 11 screen reader / browser combinations

Tests if the user hears extra text describing the "Click Here" link when tabbing between links. Without extra text the user hears a sequence like "Click Here. Click Here. Click Here" when tabbing. In reading mode the aria-describedby is read in normal reading order, along with the text surrounding the link which helps explain what the link does.

By design aria-describedby produces different results to aria-labelledby because the Accessible Name and Description: Computation and API Mappings specification maps these to different accessibility API properties:

Accessibility API aria-labelledby aria-describedby Notes
NSAccessibility AXTitleUIElement or AXDescription AXHelp Voiceover announces the content of AXHelp after a user configurable delay
IAccessible2 / MSAA accName accDescription Screen readers with virtual buffers use accName, but ignore accDescription when building the virtual buffer, which means aria-describedby is not associated with the object when reading the virtual buffer (browse mode), but is when tabbing (focus mode).
UIA LabeledBy DescribedBy

WCAG Technique: ARIA1

Code used for this test:


        <a href='4567.html' aria-describedby='a-aria-describedby-clickhere'>Click Here</a>
        <span id='a-aria-describedby-clickhere'>this is an aria described by</span>
    

Reliability Trend

This graph shows reliability over time for this code in NVDA, JAWS, WindowEyes and Voiceover. Other screen readers don't have enough historical data yet to plot trends.

100%80%60%40%20%0%201369%201477%201592%201685%201785%

Change History

Last updated: December 27, 2017

Screen readerBrowserModeNotesWhat the user hears
OK NVDA 2016.2FF48 Reading Link click here, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2016.2FF48 Tabbing Click here link, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2016.2IE11 Reading Link click here, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2016.2IE11 Tabbing Click here link, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2015.2FF40 Reading Link click here, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2015.2FF40 Tabbing Click here link, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2015.2IE11 Reading Link click here, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2015.2IE11 Tabbing Click here link, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2014.1FF28 Reading link click here, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2014.1FF28 Tabbing click here link, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2014.1IE11 Reading link click here, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2014.1IE11 Tabbing click here link, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2012.1FF28 Reading link click here, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2012.1FF28 Tabbing click here link, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2012.3IE11 Reading link click here, this is an aria described by
OK NVDA 2012.3IE11 Tabbing click here link, this is an aria described by
OK JAWS 17.0.2619FF48 Reading Link, click here. This is an aria described by.
OK JAWS 17.0.2619FF48 Tabbingaria-describedby is read when tabbing Click here, link, this is an aria described by.
OK JAWS 17.0.2619IE11 Reading Link, click here. This is an aria described by.
Fail JAWS 17.0.2619IE11 Tabbingaria-describedby isn't read when tabbing Click here, link
OK JAWS 16.0.4350FF40 Reading Link, click here. This is an aria described by.
OK JAWS 16.0.4350FF40 Tabbing Click here, link, this is an aria described by.
OK JAWS 16.0.4350IE11 Reading Link, click here. This is an aria described by.
OK JAWS 16.0.4350IE11 Tabbing Click here, link, this is an aria described by.
OK JAWS 15.0.9023FF29 Reading Link, click here. This is an aria described by.
OK JAWS 15.0.9023FF29 Tabbing Click here, link, this is an aria described by.
OK JAWS 15.0.9023IE11 Reading Link, click here. This is an aria described by.
OK JAWS 15.0.9023IE11 Tabbing Click here, link, this is an aria described by.
OK JAWS 14.0.9002FF29 Reading link click here, this is an aria described by
OK JAWS 14.0.9002FF29 Tabbing click here link, this is an aria described by
OK JAWS 14.0.9002IE11 Reading link click here, this is an aria described by
Fail JAWS 14.0.9002IE11 Tabbingreads out aria-describedby twice click here link, this is an aria described by, this is an aria described by
OK JAWS 13.0.852FF28 Reading link click here, use Jaws key plus ALT plus R to read descriptive text
Fail JAWS 13.0.852FF28 Tabbingreads out aria-describedby twice link click here, use Jaws key plus ALT plus R to read descriptive text, this is an aria described by, this is an aria described by
OK JAWS 13.0.852IE11 Reading link click here
Fail JAWS 13.0.852IE11 Tabbingreads out aria-describedby twice click here link, this is an aria described by, this is an aria described by
OK WindowEyes 9.2IE11 ReadingReads out what's on screen in reading order Link click here. This is an aria described by
Fail WindowEyes 9.2IE11 Tabbingaria-describedby isn't read Link click here
OK WindowEyes 8.4IE11 ReadingReads out what's on screen in reading order Link click here. This is an aria described by
Fail WindowEyes 8.4IE11 Tabbingaria-describedby isn't read Link click here
OK VoiceOver OSX 10.12Safari 10.1.2 Reading Link, click here, this is an aria described by. This is an aria described by
OK VoiceOver OSX 10.12Safari 10.1.2 Tabbing Link, click here, this is an aria described by.
OK VoiceOver OSX 10.11Safari 9.1.2 Reading Link, click here, this is an aria described by. This is an aria described by
OK VoiceOver OSX 10.11Safari 9.1.2 Tabbing Link, click here, this is an aria described by.
Fail VoiceOver OSX 10.10Safari 8.0.6 Readingaria-describedby is only read after long pause, unless it's next in reading order Link, click here... The help tag is: this is an aria described by. This is an aria described by
Fail VoiceOver OSX 10.10Safari 8.0.6 Tabbingaria-describedby is only read after long pause Link, click here... The help tag is: this is an aria described by.
Fail VoiceOver OSX 10.9Safari 7.0.3 Readingaria-describedby is only read after long pause, unless it's next in reading order Link, click here... The help tag is: this is an aria described by. This is an aria described by
Fail VoiceOver OSX 10.9Safari 7.0.3 Tabbingaria-describedby is only read after long pause Link, click here... The help tag is: this is an aria described by.
OK VoiceOver iOS 10.3Safari iOS 10.3Touch Click here, link, this is an aria described by
OK VoiceOver iOS 9.1Safari iOS 9.1Touch Click here, link, this is an aria described by
OK VoiceOver iOS 8.4Safari iOS 8.4Touch Click here, link, this is an aria described by
OK VoiceOver iOS 7.1Safari iOS 7.1Touch Click here, link, this is an aria described by
OK Dolphin SR 15.05IE11 Reading Click here, link. This is an aria described by
Fail Dolphin SR 15.05IE11 Tabbingaria-describedby isn't read Click here, link
OK SaToGo 3.4.96.0IE11 Reading Link click here, this is an aria described by
OK SaToGo 3.4.96.0IE11 Tabbing Click here link, this is an aria described by

SortSite rules: AccHtmlLinkTextAmbiguous

Test notes

All tests were carried out with screen reader factory settings. JAWS in particular has a wide variety of settings controlling exactly what gets spoken.

Screen readers allow users to interact in different modes, and can produce very different results in each mode. The modes used in these tests are:

In the «What the user hears» column: