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Complex tables accessibility

Complex tables (with merged cells in the header rows) traditionally required headers and ids to ensure a programmatic relationship between data cells and their corresponding cells that would be read by screen readers. It is a difficult programming process for authors which was easy to mess up and difficult to test. Screen reader advancements render headers and ids unnecessary in modern AT for many tables with merged cells in header rows, but this is not true for all situations and all screen readers.

We will discuss the conditions where headers and ids are still necessary, the environments that don’t work with (or without) headers and ids, and we’ll discuss whether adding the scope attribute helps.


Feel free to comment on Twitter @davidmacd

Author information:

David MacDonald is a veteran WCAG member, co-editor of Using WAI ARIA in HTML5 and HTML5 Accessibility Task Force Member. Opinions are my own.


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