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How to handle tables

Tables consist of solely browsable elements and do not offer any interactivity. To work through and understand the examples in this chapter, it is good to have a screen reader at hand and know how to handle it. In addition to this, there are some tools and bookmarklets that can be a huge help in your development workflow.

Keyboard only handling

For keyboard only users, tables do not offer any special functionality. So there's nothing to say here. Still, you may want to check out How to browse websites using a keyboard only.

Screen reader handling

For screen reader users, headings offer a lot of special functionalities. Here follows a quick nomination of the most important features. Besides this, check out How to read websites using a desktop screen reader.

Quick navigation

  • T: jump to next table

When reaching a table, screen readers will announce the number of rows and columns, together with the table's <caption> (if available):

My hobbies. Table with 4 rows and 3 columns.

You can add Shift to most shortcuts to reverse direction. For example press Shift + T to jump to the previous table.

Table navigation

Both NVDA and JAWS provide a special navigation within tables:

  • Ctrl + Alt + Left/Right/Up/Down: navigate to left/right/upper/lower cell

In addition to the content of the currently focused cell, this announces the column's and/or row's header cells, <th>:

Row 1, column 1: Name.

JAWS braille viewer

In JAWS' braille viewer, next to the cell's content, the current row and column numbers are displayed like this: r1c2 for row 1, column 2.

JAWS braille viewer with table row and column

Useful bookmarklets

Contents Structured

This conveys the tag names of a lot of HTML elements, including tables. It allows fast visual examination of wrong (or missing) elements.

For more details, see Contents Structured.