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Re: [EXTERNAL] Data tables in html and blank cells


From: Mark Magennis
Date: Nov 20, 2020 2:37AM


There's no general accessibility problem with having blank cells in a table. It all comes down to what is clearest and easiest for users and that depends on the nature of the table and its data. In some cases blank cells may be confusing, for instance if there is a strong reason for the user to expect there to be content in cell. In that case a 'placeholder' message may be helpful. In your example, that doesn't sound like it would be the case. In fact, it sounds like the user might expect most of the cells to be blank.

I wouldn't worry too much about a placeholder message being repeated by a screen reader for every cell. In my experience working with screen reader users (I am not one myself) they will very quickly get used to hearing the placeholder message and will skip to the next cell as soon as they hear "This area". A minor annoyance at worst.


-----Original Message-----
From: WebAIM-Forum < <EMAIL REMOVED> > On Behalf Of <EMAIL REMOVED>
Sent: 19 November 2020 16:19
Subject: [EXTERNAL] [WebAIM] Data tables in html and blank cells


I'm on a team moving courses to Canvas and something came up. We have some assignment rubrics with blank cells. Headers for criteria and points are in place. The folks working on coding believe that it is not a11y/508 compliant. They put placeholder text in each cell:

This area will be used by the assessor to leave comments related to this criterion.

This would be read by a screenreader in every instance. Everything I find indicates that leaving a cell blank is preferred and compliant.

I look forward to your expert advice.