Microsoft Excel contains helpful tools you can use to create barrier-free spreadsheets with accessibility features. Spending only an extra minute or two, you can use Excel’s ‘Check Accessibility’ feature to review and help make your work more user friendly for someone using adaptive technologies such as a screen reader.
To begin, click the Check Availability icon on the Review tab,
The Accessibility Checker will highlight any potential errors or issues in your workbook and provide you with a recommended actions list. You can apply the suggested fix by clicking on selected action, or select the arrow next to an action for more options. In the example below, the checker has ide3ntified a color contrast issue and provides considerations for making the changes.
Some helpful recommended actions to follow when creating your Excel worksheet include:
Avoid merging cells – merged cells can cause a screen reader to not know how cells relate to their respective rows and columns.
Give all sheet tabs unique names – to assist screen reader users ability to understand contents of a workbook and how to navigate, provide information about the contents.
Add alt text to charts or images – good alt text should focus on the content and purpose of the image. Do not repeat the surrounding text content.
Check accessibility while you create – inside the Accessibility Checker, you can click on check box option to keep the checker tool running while working in Excel by adding the Accessibility Checker to your status bar button.
For more resources on Microsoft’s Accessibility Checker and making Office work content accessible for everyone, be sure to bookmark these useful links.
- Office Accessibility Center
- Improve Accessibility with the Accessibility Checker
- Microassist Accessible Document Services