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