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Bob Easton reports that the popular method of hiding accessibility-friendly “skip navigation” links from visual browsers also hides them from many screenreaders.

Oh bloody hell.

From a technical point of view, those screenreaders actually get it half right: display indeed applies to all media; but visibility applies to visual media only.

Bob comes to the following conclusion:

“In the end, and with current technology, the only certain way of having accessibility material be heard but not seen is the age old technique of placing a link on an image.”

The question remains whether it is good practice to hide "skip navigation" links (and other accessibility material) at all. Accessibility expert Joe Clark argues that it’s not; we should keep them visible for all users:

“You’re not going to like this, but to make a lengthy list of links accessible, your "Skip navigation" link must be visible. It doesn’t have to be intrusive, but it has to be apparent and self-explanatory in all browsers.”

And think about mobile devices, where the screen is small and navigation hard enough already: Your hidden "skip navigation" links would be invisible.

Let’s face it: Designing standards compliant sites for a wide array of devices and users is still an evolving art.

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