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icons of a table with three columns and three rows

When it comes to accessibility, it is best to think of tables for just presenting data. You should avoid using tables to help with layouts, avoid merging and splitting cells, and always use a header row.

When tables are designed without these things in mind they can be incredibly challenging for those on screen reading technology or those who navigate a document or website using a keyboard alone. 

Keep tables simple

Tables need to be designed in the most simple way possible to avoid challenges or barriers.

This is important because:

  • if a cells in a table are merged or split a screen reader struggles to navigate it and provide helpful information

  • tables within tables (nested) are difficult to tab through logically

  • screen readers use the column headers in tables to help read out the context for each columns and their rows

The below video about tables is available with a full transcript

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