Accessible linking, External Link icon, and class="external"

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Hello Canvas accessibility experts (and hopefully the devs),

Suppose I have a link formatted like this: <a class="external" href...>

I'm curious what exactly adding class="external" to my links does, aside from removing the External Link icon. 

I've read several posts about users wanting to remove the External Link icon for aesthetic reasons, which I totally get. But does using class="external" then render a link somewhat inaccessible by removing the advanced warning that it opens in a new tab (WCAG 2.0 G201)?

Does adding this class do anything on the backend to alert users they are about to open a new tab?


P.S. I'm forever on the hunt for a similar class that would ADD the external link icon, since my institutional links come up as "internal" in my instance. 


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