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Tables should only be used to display data, not for page layout. To make tables accessible, you also need to add column and row headers to increase comprehension of the table’s contents and provide table captions. 


Imagine reading a table with no denotations of what is contained in it - you wouldn’t know what the items referred to. Including headers for rows and columns will allow screen reader users to hear full information about each cell, including the column and row titles as well as the cell's data.

How To

  1. Only use the table feature in Canvas to display data and not for formatting purposes.
  2. Make the table as clear and as simple as possible to display your data effectively.
  3. When creating a table, make sure to identify row and column headers
  4. Add a descriptive caption to the table giving users an idea of what to expect in the table
  5. When reviewing your course, use the built-in accessibility checker on each page, which will identify when you need headers and direct you how to add them.

Thing to Avoid

  1. Avoid developing complex tables with merged cells.
  2. Avoid leaving data cells blank within tables.
  3. Avoid using tables to lay out your Canvas page.
  4. Avoid tables without headers, like this:
Inaccessible table example with no header cells
Fall 34%
Spring  29%

Instead, label the elements:

Accessible table example with header cells
Season Percent of the population reporting flu symptoms
Fall 34%
Spring 29%

Moving Forward

As you create content in Canvas, only use tables to display data. If you like the look of a page using a table as a format, try using accessible Canvas templates or consult with Teaching and Learning Technologies to learn how to format your page to look the same in an accessible way. When using tables, take the extra step to create descriptive headers for rows and columns.