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Navigating Tables

Current screen-reader technology does a better job of recognizing web pages that utilize HTML tables for page layout. For web page designers, using tables for layout allows for the precise placement of content on a web page, yet can make it difficult for some users to navigate the web page.

Navigating data tables on a web page, though, is more difficult and screen-reader applications generally have specific commands to help navigate the data table. A data table is different than a layout table in that the column information presented is related to the row information presented.

Table Navigation Commands

For the JAWS screen-reader application, the following commands will allow a user to read a data table. It is important to hold down the Control and the Alt key when pressing the number-pad keys.

Result Keystroke
Reads the row and column coordinates, followed by the cell contents and then the appropriate row and column headings. Ctrl + Alt + Num Pad 5
Moves one cell to the right in the same row. Announces cell contents followed by the column heading. Ctrl + Alt + Right Arrow
Moves one cell to the left in the same row. Announces cell contents followed by the column heading. Ctrl + Alt + Left Arrow
Moves one cell up in the same column. Announces cell contents followed by the row heading. Ctrl + Alt + Up Arrow
Moves one cell down in the same column. Announces cell contents followed by the row heading . Ctrl + Alt + Down Arrow
Moves to first cell in current table. Announces cell contents followed by row and column coordinates. Ctrl + Alt + Home
Moves to first cell in current table. Announces cell contents followed by row and column coordinates. Ctrl + Alt + End

Sample Tables

The following tables will provide you with some examples as to how to navigate data tables on a web page. If a data table is designed correctly, you should hear a summary of the information to be presented in the table.

Table Example 1:

  Day of the Week
  Monday Wednesday Friday
History 9:00-10:00 8:00-9:30 9:00-10:00
English 10:30-11:30 10:00-12:00 no class
Math 2:00-3:00 1:30-4:00 computer lab
Basketweaving 3:30-5:00 5:00-5:15 3:30-5:00

Table Example 2:

  Spring Summer Autumn Winter
Betty 9-5 10-6 8-4 7-3
Wilma 10-6 10-6 9-5 9-5
Fred 10-6 10-6 10-6 10-6