Accessible Tables

Imagine trying to read a table over the phone to some one. You can’t use any descriptive words, only the words in the table. You can read aloud cells left-right and up-down. That's it.

It gets confusing very quickly.

Similarly, the relationships between pieces of information in a table can be difficult to convey with a screen reader.

Make navigating tables easier

People using screen readers can have the row and column headers read aloud as they navigate through the table. Screen readers speak one cell at a time and reference the associated header cells, so the reader doesn't lose context.

Only use for data

Don’t use tables for layout, only for data. This includes invisible tables. Data doesn't have to mean percentages and decimals, it can be purely textual. A telephone or office directory can be data.

Keep it simple

Use the header row properly

Make sure the header cells are accurately explaining the data directly below (columns) or to the right (rows).

Rethink your presentation

Sometimes you don't need a table at all.