Hiding URLs in the browser is like hiding anything. For accessibility, things are usually best left out in the open.
I’ll say I’m not a fan of burying the URL in the browser, but to be fair, I’ve grown up with URLs. I think I still have beta versions of NCSA Mosaic 0.7 on a floppy somewhere (please, whatever you do, don’t tell my wife!) My resistance to not seeing URLs by default feels natural.
I have 4 kids. I doubt they care. I also doubt that they’re impacted by it — at least so far. I just asked my 14 year old daughter if she knows what a URL is. She said it’s “the name of the website in the searchy thingy.” Better than I expected, actually.
So I’m stuck, somewhere in the middle. I like them. I use them. My kids probably… not so much.
There is a group of people that I’ve seen use URLs in different ways over the years. Some people with disabilities regularly use URL hacking to get where they want to go. Why?
Because it may be much easier to hack or even guess a URL than it is to try to navigate and operate pages that are overrun by links in mega menus or other parts of the content.
I’m not saying URL hacking is the only way to accomplish that. People often use different search strategies for the same purpose. What I am saying is that true accessibility requires flexibility in the mechanisms used to achieve goals and complete tasks.
And if URLs help people with disabilities some of the time, then it’s a viable solution, and I’m for keeping URLs where they’re most useful: out in the open.