Create Accessible Microsoft Excel Documents

There are five basic techniques that will greatly improve the accessibility of your Excel content:

  1. Add alternative (alt) text to images, SmartArt, graphs, tables, and other visuals
  2. Specify column headers
  3. Give sheets and workbooks meaningful names
  4. Create meaningful hyperlinks that inform readers about the link's content
  5. Use the Accessibility Checker

Add alternative (alt) text to images, SmartArt, graphs, tables, and other visuals

Alt text helps individuals using assistive technologies access images, graphs, and other visuals by describing important features of a visual. Follow the steps below to include alt text in your document’s images:

  1. Select the visual and right click, or select the menu key, to bring up a menu.
  2. Select Format Picture in the menu. A Format Picture dialog should appear.
  3. In the dialog, select the Layout and Properties option.
  4. Insert alt text into the Alt Text textbox.

Specify column headers

When specified, column headers can provide important information about table data and help screen readers navigate a table. Follow the steps below to insert column headers:

  1. Go to the Insert tab.
  2. In the Tables group, select Table.
  3. Select the My table has headers check box.
  4. Select OK. Excel creates a header row with default names.
  5. Type new, descriptive names for each column in the table.

Give sheets meaningful names

Giving sheets meaningful names describes to readers what data that particular sheet has and lets readers choose whether or not to use the document. Follow the steps below to rename sheets in a meaningful way:

  1. Right click on the sheet tab (default name is usually Sheet1).
  2. Select Rename from the menu.

Create meaningful hyperlinks that inform readers about the link's content

Hyperlinks that contain meaningful text instead of a URL provide much more context in a document, and inform users where the link will take them if they click on it. Follow the steps below to create meaningful hyperlinks:

  1. Select the text intended to be the link.
  2. Under the Insert tab, go to the Links group.
  3. Select Hyperlink. 
  4. In the dialog box, insert the desired website URL. (Your selected text should already be in the "Text to Display" field.)
  5. Click OK.

Use the Accessibility Checker

The Accessibility Checker is a feature in Excel that informs you about any accessibility concerns in your document, and instructs on how to address and fix these concerns. Follow the steps below to run the Accessibility Checker:

  1. Go to the File tab, then Info.
  2. Select Check for Issues to bring down a dropdown menu.
  3. Select Check Accessibility.
  4. Follow the steps in the results pane as needed.

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