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 tables for data
Always use an accurate header row at the top of your table
Keep notes or extra information out of the table
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
- Try to keep data tables simple, so they can be visualized and understood by users of screen readers.
- Use header rows appropriately and keep notes or other info out of the table itself.
- Table names should not be inside the table. Use a heading or a caption.
- Notes may be provided above or below the table. Captions are a great choice for notes.
Use the header row properlyMake 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.