Accessible Documents – Reduce Dependency on Tables

Tables are difficult for those with visual issues. Sometimes long and/or complex tables are difficult to navigate for those who have no visual difficulties. If a table must be used, choose the simplest table structure possible and use row and/or column headings.

Reduce Dependency on Tables - picture shows variety of metal, wood and composite table designsTable image from http://www.homedecordesigns.com/

Sometimes a list serves your information better than a table. If so, use a list instead. However, sometimes tables provide the necessary structure for your data. If so, definitely use a table.

Some tables are simple, others are complex – use the simplest structure possible. Only use tables for tabular data. Do not use them for page/visual layout. Avoid using split or merged cells because screen readers are not able to read them properly. Also, don’t use blank rows or columns for spacing – adjust your line spacing instead.

Screen readers read tables left to right and top to bottom. So, a screen reader user will hear the data across your first row, then your second row, then your third row, etc.

We’ll talk more about using Lists and Tables over the next two weeks!

 

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