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Eliminating User Frustration With Bypass Blocks

Web page with the header Skip to Main Content and lines representing text on the web page and the Accessibility Man icon

What Is the WCAG “Bypass Blocks” Success Criterion?

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) offer success criteria to ensure that users of all abilities can navigate, understand and make use of online content. Bypass Blocks (WCAG success criterion 2.4.1) promotes the use of Skip to Main Content links to avoid repeated text and take the user straight to the most important information on every web page. 

Websites typically display primary and secondary navigation links on every page. Often, the primary links run across the top and the secondary links go down one side. 

For sighted web visitors who can use a mouse, it’s easy to find and interact with the main content — which is typically front and center. However, for users with visual disabilities or those who rely on keyboard navigation, finding and selecting the primary subject matter may require listening to or tabbing through dozens of repeated blocks of text. That’s where Skip to Main Content links come in. 

Website with errors and fixes marked by X and a check mark and a hand using a keyboard

Why Are Skip to Main Content Links Important? 

For web visitors with no disabilities, seeing the same repeated navigation links, decorative elements, and advertising frames on every page can be a minor distraction, but it’s usually fast and easy to find the main content. 

But if you use a screen reader or keyboard navigation, those repeated blocks of content can be a major obstacle. Listening to the same irrelevant information over and over before you get to the subject matter you want is frustrating, to say the least. So is hitting the tab key dozens of times to move to the main content. And for users with physical disabilities who depend on switches or other assistive technologies that can only generate key presses slowly, finding the desired topic can even be physically painful. 

This is why the World Wide Web Consortium’s WCAG guidelines include success criterion 2.4.1: Bypass Blocks, which includes techniques for skipping directly from the top of each page to the main content area. 

Fix icon, Accessibility Man icon, check mark with WCAG AAA

What Can I Do to Fix the Issue? 

Many websites either omit these Skip to Main Content links or apply them incorrectly. An incorrect implementation usually means either that the links are not visible when they receive focus, or do not drive focus to the main content when the end user activates them. 

If your website is missing Skip to Main Content links, that’s something an automated tool can detect. But fixing the issue or correcting a dysfunctional link requires human input — because you need to pinpoint the subject matter to skip to. The fix itself is simple: You manually create the link and direct it to the main content— and, of course, test to confirm that it works as expected. 

Across a large website with constantly changing content, it can be extraordinarily hard to stay on top of even a small concern like this. AudioEye’s hybrid approach to digital accessibility — blending automated fixes with expert-led testing and custom remediation — gives us a unique advantage in finding and fixing common accessibility errors. By subscribing to the AudioEye service, you get peace of mind that WCAG accessibility issues will be identified and remediated in a timely fashion. 

Don’t delay — subscribe today and maximize your digital accessibility with AudioEye. 

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