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Axe Core Guide

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Find out what web pages on your sites are affected by HTML issues.

Axe Core 4.8

Links must be distinguishable without relying on color

Makes sure that people who can’t differentiate colors can tell when text is a link by checking that the link has either a distinct style that doesn’t depend on color or a contrast difference of more than 3:1, which tells you that manual testing is needed.

Some people with low vision have low contrast, which means there aren’t many bright or dark areas. Everything looks about the same brightness, which makes it hard to see details, edges, borders, and outlines. It can be hard to read text that is the same brightness as the background.

There are almost three times as many people with low vision as there are who are totally blind. One in twelve people, or about 8% of men and 0.4% of women in the US, has a color deficiency. People with low vision or color blindness can’t tell what the text is against a background that doesn’t have enough contrast.

When there isn’t a 3:1 color contrast between the color of the link text and the color of the text around it, people with low vision or low contrast can’t tell by looking that the text is meant to be a link.

What this Accessibility Rule Checks

Checks that all links in blocks of text have a color difference of at least 3:1 from the text around them, so that people who can’t tell the colors apart can still find the link.

This rule looks at some of the most common ways to tell a link from the text around it, such as underlining, font styling, a border, or a background. No rule has been broken if the link has its own style that doesn’t depend on color (pass). There is a violation if the link doesn’t have a clear style and the contrast is less than 3:1. (fail). When the link doesn’t have a distinct style and the contrast difference is 3:1 or higher, you must check that the link has a distinct style when you focus on it or hover over it. This can’t be reliably done by a computer, so you have to do it by hand.

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Related Accessibility Rules