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Re: Naming and labeling tables in Word


From: Jonathan Avila
Date: May 28, 2014 1:32PM

[Jonathan wrote] If you start to focus solely on making documents accessible
only for AT, you run the risk of inadvertently ignoring disabilities that
don't technically require AT

Agreed. One big problem with the current MS Word format and possibly with
word processing formats in general is that there is no clear way to mark up
data tables. You can mark a header row but that's it. There are situations
where having an option such as the JAWS option to assign column or row
headers is effective and helpful to the user. One example is a teacher of
visually impaired who has an otherwise accessible Word document but needs to
prep the document for a young student to assist with JAWS automatically
speaking the headers as the user tabs through the table.

The above situation doesn't make the document compliant but it provides an
accommodation in a situation where a TVI might not know how to code in HTML
but can set bookmarks in a table. I think this is why we have these types
of options available -- as supports or accommodations in situations where
there are few other options.

Jonathan (Avila)

-----Original Message-----
[mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Jonathan Metz
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 3:22 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: Re: [WebAIM] Naming and labeling tables in Word

Well put, Whitney.

Though I disagree with the suggestion to "Forget certifying people. Let's
have certifications for file formats and converters." We have those
certifications already, but all it shows is that some people are able
memorize what to do in certain circumstances for certain programs.

Making Office documents accessible is essentially providing documents with
the understanding that it's purpose should be for users who require
accessibility features of software that is able to edit/use docx/ xlsx/

If you start to focus solely on making documents accessible only for AT, you
run the risk of inadvertently ignoring disabilities that don't technically
require AT, but may benefit from properly implemented accessibility
techniques. My recommendation would be to follow the suggestion made by Bill
Peterson of the DHS, which is to focus on designing for standards, not for
assistive technology (AT).

More reasons to avoid testing for AT:

• AT varies a lot – versions change regularly; • Coding to a specific AT
device is only as good as the version it's coded to; • Sophisticated AT
devices like JAWS cheat; • Just because an application works with JAWS does
not mean it is 508 compliant; • Jaws is an AT device, not a *measure of
compliance* with 508 standards.


On 5/28/14, 2:32 PM, "Whitney Quesenbery" < <EMAIL REMOVED> > wrote:

>I sometimes (often informally) teach groups how to make Office docs
>The advice seems to come in three groups:
>1. The majority is essentially: Use Word as it was intended to make a
>correctly formatted document. I find myself saying this over and over
>again for structure, styles, lists, columns, headings, etc.
>2. There's a small group of "good practice things to do that are
>important for screen readers and make the document ready for PDF" This
>includes thinks like hyperlinks and tables and setting language.
>3. There's an even smaller set of "things you have to change about how
>you write" which I think just includes adding alt text, checking
>color/contrast, and placing images inline.
>My "sigh" list is:
>1. If everyone did #1 and #2 as a matter of course, it wouldn't take
>more than an inter-office memo to teach the additions for accessibility
>I've even had companies ask me to teach accessible docs as a way to
>force people to learn good document structure and plain language, since
>they won't show up for those topics.
>2. This stuff is so basic that I don't understand why we can't have
>consistency across the applications. Please. Please. Please.
>Maybe we can stop "innovating" long enough to get simple things right.
>So that the screen readers can finally actually learn to read the file
>formats. And so that the conversions between formats (Office to PDF and
>Office to Web) will work correctly. They are just bugs as far as I can
>Forget certifying people. Let's have certifications for file formats
>and converters.
>On Wed, May 28, 2014 at 1:06 PM, Jonathan Avila
>< <EMAIL REMOVED> >wrote:
>> > 1. Is there any other screen reader that does make of use of these
>> semantic hooks Word allows?
>> You need to make sure the Defined Bookmarked Tables override
>> verbosity setting in JAWS is set to "off" for the bookmarks to be
>> announced.
>> Jonathan
>> -----Original Message-----
>> [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Bourne,
>> Sarah
>> (ITD)
>> Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2014 12:39 PM
>> To: WebAIM Discussion List
>> Subject: [WebAIM] Naming and labeling tables in Word
>> We are in the process of designing an introductory course for
>>creating accessible Word documents, based primarily on the great
>>training modules created by the State of Texas
>> (http://gov.texas.gov/disabilities/accessibledocs) and cross-checking
>>with the advice from Microsoft and Freedom Scientific. We have run
>>into two situations where the Best Practice advice does not actually
>>seem to do anything for JAWS users: giving a table a name, and
>>identifying headers.
>> Testing was done with Word 2010 and JAWS 15, and verified by a few of
>>our most technically proficient JAWS users.
>> Table naming: The are two methods for assigning a name to a table in
>>JAWS. One is using a Word caption, which adds a caption before the
>> The other ("required" by Word's accessibility checker) is to add
>>alternative text. However, neither method seems to actually be used
>>by JAWS. The name isn't read when you enter the table, and it is not
>>used when you call up a list of tables. The list of tables just gives
>>the content of the first row and the table dimensions (e.g., 3 x 3).
>>I have tried using ALT text title, ALT text description, Caption, and
>>every combination of them, but there is no difference in the Table
>>List. If you use captions, you can use Word's feature to create a
>>clickable Table of Figures (tables in this case), but there doesn't
>>seem to be a way of viewing them without actually inserting them.
>> Table headers: Using Word table properties, you can identify a row
>>as column headers. Word table styles also allow you to also identify
>>row headers. However, JAWS does not make use of either. You can only
>>get it to read headers with the cell contents if you use the
>>proprietary workaround of using Word Bookmarks that start with
>>"Title", "ColumnTitle", or "RowTitle", or if you use JAWS verbosity
>>settings to identify the header rows and/or columns yourself. That
>>method works whether you have used the Word features to identify
>>headers or not, by the way.
>> So that makes me wonder why we are asking people to do these extra
>> steps at all.
>> 1. Is there any other screen reader that does make of use of these
>> semantic hooks Word allows?
>> 2. Is it only so it will be tagged properly when you "save as" PDF?
>> 3. Is there some setting we are missing in JAWS?
>> 4. Are aliens from space are messing with our minds and it works for
>> everybody else?
>> Freedom Scientific's help desk was no help. Any insight or
>>experience you can share would be appreciated.
>> sb
>> Sarah E. Bourne
>> Director of Assistive Technology
>> Information Technology Division
>> Commonwealth of Massachusetts
>> 1 Ashburton Pl. rm 1601 Boston MA 02108
>> 617-626-4502
>> http://www.mass.gov/itd
>> >> >> list messages to <EMAIL REMOVED>
>> >> >> list messages to <EMAIL REMOVED>
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