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Accessibility Information on Tables
Creating a properly structured table helps a blind, low-vision and/or screen reader user make sense of a table by reading out the heading titles and then cell content.
Why is making tables accessible important?
- Tables without structural markup to differentiate and properly link data between header and data cells, create accessibility barriers.
- Tables used for layout are frowned upon because unless they are designed correctly they are not considered accessible
- Many accessibility advocates consider using tables for layout bad practice.
- Accessible tables allows users to perceive, operate understand, access in a robust manner, POUR principles.
How to create accessible tables:
- Make sure your tables have header rows and/or header columns.
- Make sure your header row or header column cells are NOT blank.
- It is okay to have blank data cells, just not a blank header cell.
- Avoid spanned rows and columns in data tables, especially as headers, many screen readers cannot properly read these correctly.
- Always use the simplest table configuration possible.
- After you’ve created headers, you need to associate the data cells with the appropriate headers .The scope attribute identifies whether a table header is a column header or a row header. <th scope=”col”>Name</th> or <th scope=”row”>Max</th>
- Data tables very often have brief descriptive text before or after the table that indicates the content of that table.
- This text should be associated to its respective table using the <caption> element. The <caption> element must be the first thing after the opening <table> tag.
Specific Platform Instructions for adding tables
- You can add and format tables in the editor.
- To be sure your content is accessible to all users, use tables only to present data rather than for layout or presentation purposes.
- In the editor's text box, place your mouse pointer where you want to add a table and select the Insert/Edit table icon.
- When you add a table, you can set the table's basic properties, such as header rows and header columns on the General tab.
Image credits for Column and Row Header steps screen grabs - Eric Silva (n.d) Creating Accessible Tables in Blackboard.
- Do not create lists or tables manually, use the built in formatting.
Add a caption to your table.
- A table caption identifies the overall topic of a table and is useful in most situations. Captions help users to find a table and understand what it’s about and decide if they want to read it.
Add a summary to complex tables provides orientation or navigation hints in complex tables.
- A summary conveys information about the organization of the data in a table and helps users navigate it. For example, if a table has an unusual structure, information about what content can be found in which row or column can be provided to the user. A summary is usually only needed for complex tables.
If both caption and summary are provided for one table, the summary should not duplicate information present in the caption.