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Re: Accessible Excel files -- two questions

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From: Jonathan Avila
Date: Apr 7, 2017 7:54PM


Donna, it appears you are using the accessibility checker in Excel. Sometimes the advice it provides isn't always the most clear in regards to tables. It generally suggest alt text be added to all tables in MS products. This can actually be problematic for some screen readers -- in particular in PowerPoint. From an Excel standpoint it could be useful to label them in order to use commands (insert+f5) that allow the user to move to different objects on the screen -- especially if you have multiple tables.

If you do want to turn off the dropdown filter after converting them to a table you can go to the data ribbon and unselect "filter".

Other than labeling and navigation purposes there is no benefit within Excel for AT that I am aware off. If you were to convert to another format I'd assume the TH might come through into PDF output, etc.

Regarding the issue with applying alt text to tables in PPT -- I've found with some screen readers the alt text is read instead of the content in the table -- with other screen readers the alt text isn't read at all.

Jonathan

Jonathan Avila
Chief Accessibility Officer
SSB BART Group 
<EMAIL REMOVED>
703.637.8957 (Office)

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-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum [mailto: <EMAIL REMOVED> ] On Behalf Of Dona Patrick
Sent: Thursday, March 30, 2017 4:51 PM
To: WebAIM Discussion List
Subject: [WebAIM] Accessible Excel files -- two questions

I am supposed to make two Excel files accessible and explain to the client what they need to do to make this easier. These files are going to be used as templates so must remain in Excel format. I know the basics, but have conflicting answers for a question and I have another question.

The files have several tables. The first tab has a table that can be given alt text and has header cells set (this table has headers). The other tables cannot be given alt text and header cells cannot be designated. My assumption is (and I am not at all comfortable with Excel as it is) that the tables that cannot be given alt text and the header cells cannot be designated are not true tables, but the first table is. I think that what I need to suggest is that they highlight the content that is a table, select the checkbox that says "my table has headers" and that will make it a true table.

Am I anywhere near correct about this? Someone I asked at work suggested that tables in an Excel spreadsheet are always tables.

My second question is less accessibility related and more just an Excel question...

When I do make the tables true tables and say the tables have headers (if that is the right thing to do) the tables end up with a header row with icons for sorting. Is there any way to get rid of those icons?

I hope I was clear.

Thank you for any help and let me know if I can be more clear.

Dona