How skip links can help with website accessibility
By Sean Needham
What are skip links?
Ideally, a skip link, also known as "skip to" link, is the link that gets focus on a page when you hit the 'Tab' key on your keyboard. Hitting the 'Enter' key afterward will bring the user directly to the main content section on the page. In this way, skip links are designed to be the first item encountered on a page and to receive focus, and from there users are provided with links to jump the focus to content areas of the site.
Skip links are a means of bypassing blocks of content that is repeated on multiple web pages. Examples of repeated blocks of content are navigation links, heading graphics, footer links and advertising frames.
Skip links are used as a method of meeting WCAG 2 Criteria 2.4.1: Bypass Blocks.
Common and helpful skip links include Skip to Navigation, Skip to Main Content, Skip to Footer, or specific sections that are unique to an organization, such as Skip to Shopping Cart or Skip to Login.
Providing a Skip to Navigation link enhances the accessibility of your websites' navigation for keyboard users by minimizing the number of keystrokes needed to access the main content of the page.
How might I know that there is an issue on my web page?
If an accessibility WCAG Success Criterion 2.4.1: Bypass Blocks warning has been flagged by Siteimprove, then the first focusable link on the page is not a skip link.
In this case, we suggest you investigate the page in question to determine if it meets the criteria in another way.
For further information see the W3C resource “Adding a link at the top of each page that goes directly to the main content area”.
Note: This rule assumes that any global dismissible information that only appears once per site has already been acknowledged and is not displayed anymore. Many sites display a cookies policy banner which might be stealing focus until dismissed (usually by viewing and accepting cookies policy). If such a banner is taken into account, the rule may flag an issue unnecessarily. Our support team will be happy to configure the Siteimprove crawler to accept your cookie banner so that this will not be flagged as an issue.