Excel Accessibility

Please note: All instructions below are designed for Microsoft Office 2016. If you are using an earlier verison, these steps may or may not be appropriate. To get Office 2016, please contact MTSU ITD software.

Excel's Built-in Accessibility Checker

A great way to begin checking the accessibility of your Microsoft Excel spreadsheet is to use the built-in accessibility checker. Please Note: The accessibility checker only checks .xlsx files

Office for Windows 2016

  1. Go to the File tab.
  2. Select Info from the sidebar menu.
  3. Click on the Check for Issues button.
  4. Select Check Accessibility from the drop-down list.File tab open, check for issues button pressed, check accessibility button highlighted

    Picture from DAU.mil

The Accessibility Checker panel will open to the right of the document. The accessibility checker provides you with a list of errors, warnings and tips.

 

Office for Mac 2016

  1. Go to the Tools menu
  2. Choose Check Accessibility
    Tools menu expanded, Check Accessibility option highlighted

The Accessibility Checker panel will open to the right of the document. The accessibility checker provides you with a list of errors, warnings and tips.

Full list of Accessibility Issues and Fixes

Specify column header information in Excel tables

Having clear column headings can help provide context and assist navigation of the table’s contents.

To specify a header row in a block of cells marked as a table, do the following:

  1. Click anywhere in the table.
  2. On the Table Tools Design tab, in the Table Style Options group, select the "Header Row" check box.
  3. Add your header information.

To specify a header row in a new block of cells you are marking as a table, do the following:

  1. Highlight the cells you want to include in the table.
  2. On the Insert tab, in the Tables group, click Table.
  3. Select the "My table has headers" check box.
  4. Click OK.
    Excel - Table Headers checkbox

Screen readers recognize the Title, RowTitle, and ColumnTitle names. So as a screen reader's focus moves from cell to cell, it will first speak the relevant header, then the cell coordinates, and finally the cell contents.

Give all sheet tabs unique names

Sheet names should provide information about what is found on the worksheet, making it easier to navigate through an Excel workbook with several sheets. Any blank sheets in a workbook should be removed.

To rename a sheet, do the following:

  1. Right-click the sheet tab, and then click Rename.
  2. Type a brief, unique name that is descriptive of the sheet contents.
    Excel - Renaming a Sheet

To delete a sheet, do the following:

  • Right click the sheet tab, and then click Delete.

Add alternative text to images and objects

Alternative text, also known as alt text or Alt Text, appears  for a sighted person when you move your pointer over a picture or object. This alt text is read by a screen reader when it encounters and image and helps visually impaired people understand the content of images in your file. For the visually impaired, this is the only information they will have about the images and objects in your file. Alt text should be included for any of the following objects in your workbook:

  • Pictures
  • Clip art
  • Charts
  • Tables
  • Shapes (that don’t contain text and are not in groups)
  • SmartArt graphics
  • Groups (all objects in this list, with the exception of shapes, should also have alt text when in groups)
  • Embedded objects
  • Ink
  • Video and audio files

To add alt text to an image or object:

  1. Right click the image or object, and then click Format. (Note: For tables, click Table Properties.)
  2. Click the Size and Properties (or Layout and Properties) Icon > Alt Text.
  3. Type a description of the image or object into the Title and Description text boxes. Tip: Use clear, but concise descriptions. For example, “a red Ferrari” tells the reader more about the image than simply using “a car.” Include enough detail to convey the purpose of the image or object.
  4. Close the Formatting Pane.

 >> More information about adding Alt Text  (opens in a new tab)

Use hyperlink text that is meaningful

Hyperlink text should provide a clear description of the link destination, rather than only providing the URL. For example, Mike’s Auto Shop is more meaningful than http://www.mikefixescarsforyou.com

To add a hyperlink to your workbook, do the following:

  1. Place the cursor in the cell where you want to add the hyperlink.
  2. On the Insert tab, in the Links group, click Hyperlink to open the Insert hyperlink dialog box.
  3. In the Text to display box, type the name or phrase that will briefly describe the link destination.
  4. In the Address box, type the link URL.
  5. Click OK.Creating Accessible Hyperlinks - Text to Display and Address

To change the text of a hyperlink, do the following:

  1. Move your cursor to the cell with the link, and then, on the Insert tab, in the Links group, click Hyperlink to open the Insert hyperlink dialog box.
  2. In the Text to display box, make any necessary changes to the text.
  3. Click OK.

Additionally, you can include ScreenTip text that appears when your cursor hovers over a hyperlink, and can be thought of in a similar way to adding an alt text for the link. To add ScreenTip text, do the following:

  1. Place your cursor in the hyperlink you want to add the ScreenTip text to.
  2. On the Insert tab, in the Links group, click Hyperlink to open the Hyperlink dialog box.
  3. Click ScreenTip.
  4. Type in your text in the ScreenTip text box.
  5. Click OK. 

Avoid using blank cells, rows, or columns for formatting

Blank cells, rows, or columns could mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table. You can fix this by removing unnecessary blank cells, rows, or columns.

Include closed captions for any audio or video

If you use audio or video components in a workbook, ensure that the content is available in alternative formats for users with disabilities, such as closed captions, transcripts or alt text. Review this video captioning resource.

 

 

 

Additional Resource

MS Office - Make your Excel spreadsheets accessible