Data Visualization Toolkit: Data Tables Accessibility Tips

Data Tables Accessibility Tips

  • Tables must be used to create a tabular structure for inserting and displaying data (for example, in Microsoft Word or PowerPoint). Do not use tabs or spaces to separate and display columns of information.
  • All tables must read from left to right, top to bottom (for proper reading order by an assistive device such as a screen reader). Simple tables contain the same number of columns in each row and rows in each column. There are no merged cells, especially in the headers. Simple tables are easily accessible because screen readers can navigate through them one cell at a time. Complex tables contain merged or empty cells. Accessible Word documents must use simple tables. Accessible PDF files may use complex tables.
  • Vertical text is not 508 compliant. All text must be horizontal.
  • Tables containing data must have the first row designated as a header row in Word, Table Properties, check the Repeat as header row at the top of each page.
  • Table headers should never be empty, especially the top left cell.
  • Provide alt text (alternative text) that summarizes the nature and content of the table.
  • Rows should not break across pages. In Word, Table Properties, uncheck the Allow to break across pages checkbox.

For more information on making data tables accessible, see the Web Accessibility in Mind site and the Web Accessibility Standards webpage.

Published December 2022.