Tables are accessible, too

22 Dec

(this post previously appeared on bring back tables)

Whilst hauling a developer over the coals because he took almost three days to cut up one PSD, I mentioned that he should make use of tables. The look he gave me was of almost utter disbelief.

I congratulated him for making a page that looked like it had been made with tables, and acted like it had been made with tables, but that if I had actually made it with tables it would have taken me 4 hours from start to finish, rather than the 2.5 days it took him. I explained that tables shouldn’t be neglected because they were often the most efficient way of making a design into a web page.

Once I had debunked his idealism with my carving knife story, he brought up the popular myth that tables aren’t accessible.


According to the W3 accessibility checklist, tables are accessible to priority 2 and above.

5.3 Do not use tables for layout unless the table makes sense when linearized. Otherwise, if the table does not make sense, provide an alternative equivalent (which may be a linearized version)

This means, that when a screenreader sees your text in the raw HTML, the text should go left to right, not down, then along.

5.4 If a table is used for layout, do not use any structural markup for the purpose of visual formatting.

This means if you are using your table to hold content together, don’t use th, caption etc

I must admit, I only knew this, as I have made a couple of priority 2 sites myself, and before I had done the research I had also believed the hype.

Tables are accessible, people. Spread the love.

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