MS Excel: Accessibility Best Practices
Tables: Use Tables Titles and Avoid Blank Rows and Columns
- One very common mistake is leaving column A blank (because it makes it look like a margin).
- Place table titles in the first column (A) so screen readers can find them easily.
- If the table does not display the full text, merge cells and center them by selecting the Home tab, then clicking on Merge & Center. Be sure to keep the original text in the first column.
- It’s OK to have merged cells in titles, but do not merge cells in the data part of the table.
- Resize your rows and columns to provide spacing that makes the table readable (rather than using
blanks to create your spacing).
- If you have two or more tables on the same worksheet, leave a single blank row between each
table. You can resize the blank row to create a space that is visually appealing.
- Add an “End of Table” message in the row after the last row of a data table row. The text can be in white against a white background.
Table Cell Range and Header Cells: Define the Regions
- You can use the Names feature to name a range of cells so that screen readers voice the names of header cells along with the value of each cell.
- Select the top-left cell in your table. Don’t count the titles, but do count all row and column headers as part of your table.
- Go to the Formulas tab in the Ribbon, and choose Name Manager in the Defined Names Choose New in the top left corner.
- A new dialog box opens. In the Name field, type TitleRegion then put a 1 if this is the first table on your worksheet, then a period, then the range of cells in your table from top left to bottom right (with a period in between), then another period, then the worksheet number. For example, your Title code might look like this:
- Click OK and Close.
Images: Use Alt Text for Informative Images
- Insert the image, then right-click and choose Size and Properties.
- In the Size and Properties dialog box, choose the Alt Text Type in a brief description with
enough detail to explain the picture, then Close the dialog box.
Charts: Use Alt Text Descriptions
1. Right-click on the chart, select Format Chart, then Alt Text.
- Complete the Description field (not the Title field).
See also: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Section 508 Accessibility checklist