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Accessibility Tips for Charts

Decorative image of a spreadsheet chart on a laptop.
Image credit: Pixabay

This page focuses on accessibility tips for adding tables to text documents (Word and Google Docs) and sharing Excel spreadsheets or Google Sheets files. Making these types of documents accessible is a little more difficult than a text document, but you can improve the accessibility of your files with a few steps.

Tables in Text Documents

The most commonly encountered chart is often a table inserted in a Word or Google Doc file. In fact, we may forget we put a table in that text file! These can be difficult for a screenreader or assistive technology to convey to a person with a disability. Making sure to follow these tips can help make your document more accessible:

  • Use column headings (Microsoft video on how to add column headings)
  • When entering data, do not skip any cells. If need be, write “blank” and change the font color to white so that it is not visible but still contains a value for a screenreader.
  • Do not merge cells. Keep the columns and rows consistent.
  • Avoid inserting images into the table. If you want to embed images in text, there are better ways to control the placement of the image like wrapping the text.

Excel Spreadsheets

In early August 2021, Microsoft provided some new navigation resources for accessibility in Excel. This helps individuals navigate between individual spreadsheets within a file. Microsoft has robust general resources for creating accessible Excel files. The tips provided below focus primarily on tips for within individual spreadsheets.

  • Many of the same tips listed above apply here. Use column headings.
  • Do not skip cells.
  • Do not merge cells.
  • If you include a chart or diagram for analyzing the data, make sure to provide alternative text descriptions of the the data visualization.
  • Make sure to name all spreadsheets with descriptive and unique names, and delete blank sheets.
  • If you include hyperlinks, use named or meaningful hyperlinks rather than the URL itself.

Google Sheets

All of the items listed above are common to Google Sheets as well as Excel. You can follow the tips listed for Excel.