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Getting Link information via access technology

July 12, 2023


Welcome to this page that will explain why it is important to check your links before clicking. For the disabled, checking links has been something that has been difficult at best. This is because of visual aspects that we don’t get by voice. Let’s explain.

When you, the sighted user hovers a link with the mouse, an tooltip will pop up on screen. Before that, the same information was once on the status bar. Screen Readers once were equipped to read the status bar, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

For a blind person, this has changed how we do things. In fact, when I started this research in 2022 as you’ll see in a blog post, it seemed there were differing things happening.

For example, I had learned that Jaws had incorporated this information in to their context sensitive help. NVDA at the time of research did not have a single keystroke. The Mac I later learned had this, and it works with IOS and a bluetooth keyboard connected. Android? Well, we’ll just have to talk about Android when we get there.

Want to read my Initial Research in full detail?

blog post: So … what’s going on with accessible ways of getting links?

This post was written in January 2023 after I got a response to my initial inquiry during the Christmas/New Year break.

In February, I got yet another update. While this was in alpha, and beta, testers were advised to test it out.

An update on NVDA on giving us links

Let’s get down to what we know and even talk about what might be new thanks to Mastodon’s community. You can jump to your screen reader by hitting your heading key, (h) in most cases. If that’s not it for your reader, please refer to your documentation on what that is. For Mac, QuickNav must be on for this to work.

Jaws For Windows

I have been an on again, off again user of the screen reader Jaws For Windows. In 2018, the screen reader I had chosen for its existance was discontinued. That screen reader was called Window-Eyes. I didn’t mind using Jaws, but my preference was W-E.

In the various years I’ve been places, they wanted to know if I used Jaws. Without listening to tapes or CD’s, I had proved I knew enough of Jaws to be an advanced user of where I was at the time. But at the time I had to switch full time, it didn’t occur to me to look for a keystroke for this as Windows has the context menu and we can select copy link or copy link location and paste it somewhere. That keystroke is shft+f10 or if your computer has it, the context key; usually located by the right control key.

Jaws is simple. The key they assigned is the context sensitive help key ins+f1. The key for this to work is to have it on a link. If the link says “click here” as an example, you should be on any letter or space of that link with the virtual cursor. Hitting the key will yield the results shown within the blog post where we talked about what was out there. The first line in the dialogue is the link. The second and subsequent lines give instructions. Pressing escape will close the dialogue and return you back to the page or window you were in. This works with PDF documents aswell since it uses the same virtual view web pages use.

NVDA for Windows

Initially, there was only one way to read a link when you were on it. While on the link, hit the context key, hit shft+f10 and select save link or save link as and copy it somewhere or hit ins+c to read the clipboard. This was a new command I had learned as part of this research and it did work as described.

With 2023.1 or later, there are now two ways you can get the link.

  • First, hit ins+k. This will speak the link address without taking you away from the HTML element whether PDF or web page.
  • Second, hit ins+kk (k twice) to pop up a dialogue with the link. Press escape to return back to your window.

At the time of writing, the only thing in the dialogue is the link. New users should know you can press escape from this dialogue to exit it and return to the page or document.

Mac and IOS

The Mac and IOS operating systems are similar. The mac mainly uses a keyboard while IOS can use both.

While using a keyboard, IOS users can use the same command the Mac uses to get information on your link. Unfortunately, it only speaks the info, it will not display it for you.

Like Windows, the Mac has the capability to give you a context menu. The command is vo+shft+m to access the menu. Once you have the menu, use your arrows and find copy link or an equivalent option depending on the browser. You will need then to paste that in to a notes app or your word processor to see the link. There is also another command you can use. Its vo+shft+u. This will voice the link if your cursor is on it.


The JRN has asked several different Android people about what is available in regards to hgetting links. Everyone I’ve talked to indicate that there is no easy way besides double tap and hold and copying the link somewhere.

This is unfortunate. Android should be along now to a point where people with disabilities should know what they are clicking on. Just having a link that says “click here to verify your account” as an example isn’t going to cut it anymore. Any email saying there’s a problem and to “click on the link” can take you somewhere you can’t verify. I hope that at some point, Android has the ability to do this. If several Windows screen readers can, Mac and IOS can, than why not Android?


I hope that this guide is of value to you. If you’re using software that isn’t listed here, please feel free to
and I’ll get this guide updated.

Without you, the Internet User, telling us what we’re missing, this guide can’t be a complete guide. This guide is permanently hosted through the Tech blog and podcast and is linked around the JRN suite of sites where appropriate. Thanks so much for reading and stay safe out there!

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