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Digital Accessibility

Spreadsheets & Tables

Creating accessible tables and spreadsheets isn't hard. In fact, you will use much of the functionality already built into whichever platform you are using to build your table or spreadsheet. However, there are some simple steps you need to follow to ensure that everyone can navigate your data.

Creating Accessible Spreadsheets and Tables

Certain digital accessibility principles apply to both spreadsheets and tables, as they are doing the same type of work to present data. 

Write clear column headings.

Give each column a heading that clearly describes the data it contains. 

Spreadsheet Tabs

If your spreadsheet has multiple sheets or tabs, be sure you name those clearly too.

Use the default header row.

Your software will usually set the first row as the default header row for you to enter a description for each column. Do not delete this header row.

Adding a Header Row

Did you happen to delete the header row or you're fixing a document where there is no header row present? In some programs, you can simply turn the header row on. In others, you will have to add a header row manually. The process will depend on the software you're using. 

Avoid merging rows.

Screen readers read out the row name before the data contained in that row. It can be very difficult for those using a screen reader to understand data when row numbers are combined.

Watch your color contrast.

When choosing cell background and text colors, keep in mind that your color contrast ratio must still be 4.5:1 or stronger. You can use the  WebAIM Contrast Checker to easily make sure your contrast is high enough.

Images will need alternative text.

Any graphics you include in your table or spreadsheet will need alternative, or alt, text. The way you add that alt text will depend on the software you're using.

How to Write Alt Text »


Extra Guidelines for Tables

Because tables are inserted into other documents, they come with some additional dos and don'ts.

Only use tables to present data.

Never use a table to create a custom layout or for any other purpose than to display data.

Create tables using your software's built-in functionality. 

Tables should be built using the table tools provided by your software. These tools make it easier to create tables that comply with accessibility guidelines. 

Adding Tables to Documents


Adding Tables in Omni CMS

If you're working on an site in Omni CMS, there are some specific steps you should follow to make sure you're building accessible tables.

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