E-mail List Archives

Re: Word documents and tables


From: Cliff Tyllick
Date: Oct 26, 2010 12:06PM

Hi, Chris.

When this was mentioned at Access U, we were in a class on how to make
Word documents accessible. We tested it immediately with Word 2007 or
2010 and, I believe, JAWS 11. The instructor added the bookmark, turned
JAWS on, and clicked into a cell in the middle of the table. The whole
class cheered on hearing JAWS read the two headings and then the cell

I really do like your sample document. I scrolled until I saw a table
and found this:

"Table 1 * Factors to consider in clauses on information
The best designed products or services avoid the need for any
explanatory information, signalling the way they should be used by form
and appearance."

And, below this introduction, Table 1 has column headings, row
headings, and empty cells. Some of the cells are shaded gray; others are

No explanatory information needed there, eh?


Cliff Tyllick
Usability assessment coordinator
Agency Communications Division
Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

>>> On 10/26/2010 at 12:02 PM, in message
< <EMAIL REMOVED> >, Christophe
Strobbe < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:
Hi Cliff,

At 16:55 26/10/2010, Cliff Tyllick wrote:
>You can designate column and row headings in Word documents, and
>JAWS (and, I assume, other screen readers) will pick it up. But
>nowhere in Word's documentation have I found this procedure. Here's
>how you do it:
>To make it possible for screen readers to recognize the headings in
>your table, add a bookmark to the first cell of each table:
>- If the first row contains column headings *and* the first column
>contains row headings, name the bookmark "Title#," where "#" is the
>number of the table.
>- If the first row contains column headings but the rest of the
>first column is data, not row headings, name the bookmark
>"ColumnTitle#," where # is the number of the table. (A decision
>table might be formatted this way.)
>- If the first column contains row headings but the rest of the
>first row is data, not column headings, name the bookmark
>"RowTitle#," where # is the number of the table.

I once used a similar bookmark technique, but with a bookmark in
every column header cell and every row header cell. I can't remember
where that advice came from, and maybe that is a good thing because
it did not work. A blind trainee who used the document complained
that the tables were still not accessible. However, transferring
those tables to Microsoft Excel turned out to be much better, even
though the tables contain a header row with merged cells. (I am
referring to the tables in Clause 7 of CEN/CENELEC Guide 6:

Guide 6 contains "Guidelines for standards developers to address the
needs of older persons and persons with disabilities" but is not

>When JAWS encounters such a table, it will, at the appropriate
>verbosity setting, behave just like it does in a properly tagged
>table in an html or PDF document. For example, if the bookmark is a
>"Title" bookmark:
>- If you move the cursor directly into a data cell, you will hear
>JAWS announce the column heading and then the row heading, followed
>in a different tone of voice by the contents of that cell.
>- Move the cursor to the next row (same column), and JAWS will
>announce the new row heading and, in the different tone of voice,
>the contents of that cell.
>- Move the cursor to the next column (same row), and JAWS will
>announce the new column heading and, in the different tone of voice,
>the contents of that cell.
>All the "Repeat as header row" does is display (to people who can
>see) the header row on each new page when the table extends across
>more than one page. It does not affect what JAWS announces -- at
>least, it hasn't in any demonstration that I have witnessed. But, of
>course, redisplaying the header row is important for cognitive
>accessibility, even for people whose only "impairment" is a moment's
>distraction as they flipped the page.

Best regards,


Christophe Strobbe
K.U.Leuven - Dept. of Electrical Engineering - SCD
Research Group on Document Architectures
Kasteelpark Arenberg 10 bus 2442
B-3001 Leuven-Heverlee
tel: +32 16 32 85 51
Twitter: @RabelaisA11y
"Better products and services through end-user empowerment"
www.usem-net.eu - www.stand4all.eu
Please don't invite me to Facebook, Quechup or other "social
networks". You may have agreed to their "privacy policy", but I