WebAIM - Web Accessibility In Mind

E-mail List Archives

Thread: Screen Reader Usable Baseball Standings


Number of posts in this thread: 1 (In chronological order)

From: Jim Homme
Date: Thu, May 24 2018 2:24PM
Subject: Screen Reader Usable Baseball Standings
No previous message | No next message

Hi Kelly,

I may have a way to change the mark-up to accomplish forcing screen readers to read two columns header data.

=========Jim Homme
Product Manager
Digital Accessibility
Bender Consulting Services
People with disabilities, access job openings at https://www.benderconsult.com/careers/job-openings

From: WebAIM-Forum < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > on behalf of KellyFord < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = >
Sent: Monday, May 7, 2018 6:11:37 PM
To: 'WebAIM Discussion List'
Subject: [WebAIM] Screen Reader Usable Baseball Standings


I'm sure most, if not all of this, isn't much of a surprise to readers of
this list. I do find task and exploration based explorations of
accessibility and usability interesting though.

I recently started exploring sports sites to see who might be doing a good
job at producing usable tables by screen readers to display baseball
standings. I'll likely have more on that in a couple weeks. Right now my
exploration has roughly 25 sites for this one task.

My basic exploration was just to see how baseball standings were with
respect to usability assuming a default install of a screen reader, without
having to make any adjustments to web settings, and a user who is
comfortable using table reading commands. In short can you move across a
row and hear the cell data along with a column header to know what that data
represents. Similarly, can you move down a column to compare and such and
hear a row header to know what each row represents.

Far and away the number 1 problem has been no column headers, followed by no
row headers. Some screen readers do have a user option that can be adjusted
to compensate for these shortcomings. That setting makes a big difference.

So far the first site I've found that uses both column and row headers and
does not have data itself that isn't readable (see my USA Today example) is
Baseball Reference at
https://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/MLB-standings.shtml. Even there,
it is interesting though because the row headers in the expanded standings
are just the ranking numbers of the teams. So as you move down a column in
the expanded standings, you still really don't know what team is being
covered. This one is particularly interesting because as far as I know
there's no way to even correct for this by an end user with today's screen
readers where what you really want is the first two columns to be the row
header or maybe just the second column.

As a part of those explorations one site I tried was USA Today's at:


One interesting discovery, was how different the results were between
Chrome, IE, Firefox and Edge on Windows and yet similar with both JAWS and
NVDA between browsers. Just exploring if the basic table was discovered and
read (ignoring automatic reading of headers and such) IE and Edge were
successful with both screen readers. Both screen readers in Chrome,
however, had trouble when it came to the actual data in the tables. They
more or less treated the column header row as a table. By that I mean
commands in each screen reader to move through the row a cell at a time were
successful. When it came to the data rows, each row of cells, was treated
as if it was one combined row though. In short table navigation commands
could not move left/right through the row of data. Additionally, once you
moved into the data, commands to move up and down a column also failed in
Chrome and Firefox browsers.

USA Today thus far though is one of the few sites I've found that uses the
Team names as row headers, meaning that as a user moves down a column, the
team names can be communicated automatically without having to make other
adjustments to the screen reading table reading options. Unfortunately, the
last column, which tells you the current win/loss streak for a team, appears
to use some visual indication exclusively to tell you if the number
represents a winning or losing streak.

ESPN was also interesting as it seems to be variation on a theme I asked
about here last week. In this case it seems that the row headers, again the
team names, are what are separated into a separate table. As I mentioned
last week, most other sites where I've started to encounter this are
separating out the column headers. ESPN's page for baseball standings is
at: http://www.espn.com/mlb/standings.

MLB, that has over the years worked on accessibility, appears to have gone
in reverse in this situation. Teams in their standings, are not row headers
at http://mlb.com/mlb/standings/index.jsp.

Fox Sports, at https://www.foxsports.com/mlb/standings, leaves team names
out as row headers. Interestingly, due to how the teams are created with
alt text and text though, you do hear the mascot part of each team name
twice such as Milwaukee Brewers Brewers when reading the page.

The inline answers provided by Google and Bing when searching for the term
baseball standings were also interesting. Both used a table but Google had
no column headers. Bing's table had column headers but no row headers.
Further, if a user opted to try the screen reader setting to treat the first
cell in a row as the row header, for Bing it would be just a number
representing the team's rank in their division. Team names are in column 3.
Column 2 appears to be an image with the null alt tag that results in a
range of experiences from a screen reader saying blank to image to link and
image depending on the screen reader and browser combination when using
table reading commands.

My comparisons involved the latest versions of Chrome, IE, Firefox and Edge
with the latest versions of JAWS and NVDA for all browsers. Narrator with
Edge was also used. These are very preliminary results based on the
previously described screen reader usage pattern and an initial browse of
the page's underlying HTML.

If there is anyone who's interested in accessibility and baseball who wants
to assist me with my exploration, please reach out. I'm undertaking this
effort to answer my basic question about how sports sites are doing on this
basic task along with trial and use of the various developer tools in
browsers and accessibility testing tools today to see what combination of
browser developer tools and screen reader works well for my use.

No commentary on the level of accessibility of any web site mentioned here
is implied or intended. This is one user's snapshot experience of trying to
perform one task. Formal accessibility testing involves much more and other
tools than screen readers are better starting points. Additionally, I have
no firm data on the percentage of screen reading users who use table reading
commands and do not believe that questions on that are currently asked in
even the WebAIM screen reading surveys.

Thank you,