Data Table Accessibility Test Update

Revised: March 2008

It is two years since Russ Weakley and I prepared a series of complex data tables to test different ways of enhancing their accessibility, particularly for screen reader users. Some of the tables used scope with col and/or row to associate data cells with column and row headers. Others used id and headers to link data cells with the appropriate headings. These tables were tested by a variety of people using different screen readers.

In summary we found,

“At this stage, it appears that id and headers are the most effective way to make complex data tables accessible. Although id and headers are slightly more difficult to code than scope, the apparent poor screen reader support for scope means that this is probably not an effective accessibility option.”

For more information see the 2005 report, Accessible Data Tables.

Following the release of the report, we recieved some suggestions about how we could improve the way we had used scope with the orginal tables. Also the last two years have seen some signficant improvements in screen reader technologies, so we felt it was time to revise our tables and once again ask for feedback from website users and developers, particularly those who use screen readers.

Revision notes, March 2008

We recieved from a number of people regarding the test tables prepared in October 2007. As a result, we have revised the presentation and content of the test tables on this page. The price in the data cell of each table indicates the number of the table, the row of data and the table column the cell refers to.

For example, the retail price of brass washers in Sydney is $2.24. This means, that this cell is in Table 2, (data) row 2 and column 4. Needless to say this means the prices in the tables make little sense, but we hope this change will make the tables a little easier for screen reader users to test.

Many thanks to Andew Downie, Bruce Bailey and Craig Shea for their suggestions.

Vision Australia have developed a Complex Data Table Markup Tool for use with Firefox. The Tool can be used to check the markup of tables or automatically generate accessible markup for complex data tables.

Request for comments

Please send us your opinions on the accessibility of the different data tables and any suggestions for how they might be improved. And, please don’t be distracted by the simplified nature of the content or the number of heading levels used in the tables.

Table 1: Peas and Beans – complex table using id and headers

This table provides information about the large and small price of both imported and domestic peas and beans in Perth and Hobart.

Imported and domestic peas and bean prices in Perth and Hobart
Imported Domestic
Green Peas French Beans Green Peas French Beans
Perth
Wholesale $1.22 $1.23 $1.24 $1.25
Retail $1.32 $1.33 $1.34 $1.35
Hobart
wholesale $1.52 $1.53 $1.54 $1.55
Retail $1.62 $1.63 $1.64 $1.65

Table task 1

The retail price of domestic green peas in Perth is $1.34. When using a screen reader, how easy is it to find the wholesale price of domestic green peas in Hobart?

Table 2: Screws and Washers – complex table using scope, colgroup and rowgroup (version 1).

This table provides information about the wholesale and retail prices of brass and steel screws and washers in Sydney and Melbourne.

There are two levels of row and column headers. The first level of row headers (Sydney and Melbourne) are in a different column to the second level of row headers (wholesale and retail).

Brass and steel screw and washer prices in Sydney and Melbourne
Brass Steel
Screws Washers Screws Washers
Sydney Wholesale $2.13 $2.14 $2.15 $2.16
Retail $2.23 $2.24 $2.25 $2.26
Melbourne Wholesale $2.33 $2.34 $2.35 $2.36
Retail $2.43 $2.44 $2.45 $2.46

Table task 2

The wholesale price of brass washers in Melbourne is $2.34. When using a screen reader, how easy is it to find the wholesale price of steel screws in Melbourne?

Table 3: T Shirts – complex table using scope, colgroup and rowgroup (version 2).

This table provides information about the prices of different sizes of men and womens T shirts.

There are two levels of row and column headers. The first level of row headers (Men and Women) are in a different column to the second level of row headers (large and small). Also, a separate Tbody is used for the different row sections (Men and Women).

Prices of plain and printed T shirts for Men and Women
Cotton Viscose
Plain Printed Plain Printed
Men large $3.13 $3.14 $3.15 $3.16
small $3.23 $3.24 $3.25 $3.26
Women large $3.33 $3.34 $3.35 $3.36
small $3.43 $3.44 $3.45 $3.46

Table task 3

The price of printed cotton large T-shirts for women is $3.34. When using a screen reader, how easy is it to the price of small, plain cotton T-shirts for women?

Table 4: Table ware – complex table using scope, colgroup and rowgroup (version 3).

This table provides information about the prices of cups and plates in Australia and New Zealand.

With this complex data table version there is a single column of row headers, but a separate Tbody is used for the different row sections (Australia and New Zealand).

Prices in Australia and New Zealand of glass or china cups and plates manufacured by Smith and Dragon
Australia New Zealand
Cup Plate Cup Plate
Dragon
Glass $4.22 $4.23 $4.24 $4.25
China $4.32 $4.33 $4.34 $4.35
Smith
Glass $4.52 $4.53 $4.54 $4.55
China $4.62 $4.63 $4.64 $4.65

Table task 4

The price in Australia for a Dragon glass plate is $4.23. When using a screen reader, how easy is it to find the price of Smith glass plate in New Zealand?

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