Accessible table in Microsoft inserted using table design and layout menus, selected here in Microsoft Word with a partial table shown in the document underneath.

Accessible tables in Microsoft programs

Reach more people by creating accessible tables in Microsoft programs. Your documents can be read aloud by screen readers and be easier to view for folks with sight.

Building accessible tables in Microsoft programs requires utilizing their tools properly.

Microsoft has made great strides towards accessibility in its programs. They provide tutorials on their site about how to create accessible tables in Word and how to create accessible tables in Excel. My colleague, Corrine Schoeb, has also posted being friendly to everyone’s reading styles, mentioning tables and Microsoft, specifically.

Some major takeaways from these tutorials

  • Labeling a Header Row as such will enable a screen reader to read it properly. 
  • Tables in Excel are much more dynamic. As a result, making tables accessible in Excel requires much more attention. Pay attention to details so that all users have access to the data equitably.
  • Almost never merge cells.
  • Blank cells are an issue for screen readers.

In addition, a person who is blind demonstrates the importance of properly creating and labeling your tables in any electronic format in the video below. The principles of accessibility apply to all tables.

Mark Sutton of UCSF demonstrates navigating tables with a screen reader. The video starts at 2:18.