#7 Accessibility of Excel (MS Office) documents
Note 24-2-2014: Today I added part 2 of this post, and when you read this, you ´ll understand why I changed the orignal title of this post ('Calendar 2014 v6 Accessible version') to: Accessibility of Excel (MS Office) documents'
Part 1/2 (21-1-2014)
Check for Issues > Check Accessibility), result:
No accessibility issues found. People with disabilities should not have difficulty reading this document
So 'accessible' software is software which can be used (also) by peope with a disability, e.g. a visual disability. For more information, see:
To make this Excel 'accesible', I had e.g. to split merged cells (to single cells) and add a description to hyperlinks and pictures.
'Accessible software' (websites) is the specialty of the company I work for in Spain, Technosite, a member of ONCE, a foundation dedicated to the integration of disabled people in society, so that e.g. a blind person can have a job as a computer-programmer (I worked with one once in a project, I was really impressed). For more information, see:
Part 2/2 (24-2-2014)
Maybe my Excel with the 2014-calendar in part 1 of this post is not the best example to demonstrate the subject of this post: 'accessibility of Excel (MS Office) documents', because normally a year-calendar is something that you print and stick on a wall, while 'accessibility' refers to electronic documents accessible for people with a visual handicap, e.g. blind persons. So to demonstrate 'accessibility' in a better way, I´ll use in part 2 of this post another Excel-document I made (see download-mirror #2), which has a table of the ranking of the top 6 skaters in the 5km speed skating competition in the Olympic Games in Sochi and a bar-chart based on this table, see fig.1. As fig.1 shows (see the warning-messages in the right-part of the screen: 'Alternative text is missing for image..'), this document does not pass the test of the 'Accessibility Checker' (availaible since MS Office 2010), because it has some images without alternative text (the flags). So I decided to make a new, 'accessible', version of this Excel, see fig.2, where the right-part of the screen now shows this (OK-)message:
"No accessibility issues found. People with disabilities should not have difficulty reading this document".
So to make the Excel accessible, I deleted the flag-column because this column is not really necessary
(the table has a column 'Country').
I read somewhere this accessibilty guideline:
"In Excel, you should not mix visual elements (e.g. charts) with text elements (e.g. table), but separate them, so put the chart in another worksheet than the table because it causes problems for screen-reader software like Jaws. "
NB: Jaws can produce output both in audio (reads aloud the text on the PC-screen) or in Braille, for Braille-output devices, for more details, see:
So that´s why I deleted the flag-icons from the Ranking-table. And I also deleted the other visual objects (e.g. logos Sochi and skating) which are nice (for a non-blind person), but not really necesary. The only visual element which I didn´t delete is the chart, which is usefull because a non-blind person can see in a chart easier/faster then in a table data like the differences in the finishing-times. And I did not put the chart in another worksheet then the table because this Excel is also designed to be printed on 1 A4. And to prevent problems for Jaws, I separated table and chart with a row with the text 'Visual Objects (Charts) below'. And I included an 'alternative text' to the chart. Alternative text, also known as 'alt text 'or 'Alt Text', appears when you move your pointer over a picture or object, and helps people that use screen readers to understand the content of images in your file.
If you compare fig.1 and 2, it is clear that for a non-blind person fig.1 is more 'visually attractive'
and I think this is the main goal of most companies, create documents which look nice and they don´t look at the accessiblity-aspect. But administrations in the US must: Section 508 of the United States Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires Federal agencies’ to make all of their electronic and information technology accessible.
I don´t know if in other countries administrations also have the obligation to produce accessible documents
but I suppose they have, they should.
For more information about Accessibility Features in Microsoft Office 2010, see:
And if you want to create accessible Excel-templates (xltx), so to make it easier for others
to create accessible Excel-documents by using your templates, here you can find some guidelines:
And for normal Excel-documents (xlsx), see:
Fig.1: v1: Non-Accessible version
fig.2: v2: Accessible version
Part 1: Calendar
Part 2: Ranking Skating
Part 1: Calendar
Part 2: Ranking Skating
- PDF-format (zip with 7 PDF´s, one for each language):