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Accessible interactions (on Adactio)

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Jeremy Keith takes us through his thought process regarding the choice of link or button when planning accessible interactive disclosure elements.

A button is generally a solid choice as it’s built for general interactivity and carries the expectation that when activated, something happens. However in some cases a link might be appropriate, for example:

  • when the target should automatically receive focus;
  • when the trigger and target content are relatively far apart in the DOM; and/or
  • when the revealed content feels like a “new page”.

In the case of a progressively-enhanced modal dialogue, for example, all of the above might be true.

In such cases you might choose to use a link with a fragment identifier (<a href="#login-modal">Log in</a>) so that it works well via old-school page anchors without JavaScript, then when JavaScript is available we can intercept the link’s default behaviour and enhance things with a fancier disclosure pattern.

While not explicit in the article, another thing I take from this is that by structuring your no-JavaScript experience well, this will help you make appropriate decisions when considering the with-JavaScript experience. There’s a kind of virtuous circle there.

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