United States Department of Veterans Affairs
VHA Office of Health Information

Creating Accessible PDFs with Adobe Acrobat Professional

Page 3 of 5

Constructing Accessible Tables

Back Next

Complex Data Tables

The table below is a complex table listing employees and their status on projects. The table is a good example of complexity because the project titles are merged cells, with status definitions under each. Each employee’s status on a project is related to “Started” or “Completed” and the project title.


Employee

Project A

Project B

Project C

Started

Completed

Started

Completed

Started

Completed

Maria

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

No

N/A

John

No

N/A

Yes

Yes

Yes

No

Jessica

Yes

No

No

N/A

No

N/A

Complex tables, such as the one above, need ID and Header arrays to associate data cells with headers. Each header (TH) will be assigned a unique ID and each data cell (TD) will have an array that includes all of the ID values of the applicable header cells. There are two methods to properly associate the cells: using the Table Editor features (recommended) or editing the properties of each cell through the Tags pane. The steps for both methods are explained below:

Recommended Approach: Utilizing the Table Editor

Setting the ID:
  1. Activate the TURO tool under Accessibility in the Tools pane.
  2. Activate the Context menu of the table.
  3. Select Table Editor.
  4. Select the table header cell to mark as a header and activate the Context menu.
  5. Choose Table Cell Properties…
  6. Ensure the Header Cell radio button is selected.
  7. Select Row, Column, or Both from the Scope combo box.
  8. Adjust the values in the Row Span and Column Span edit boxes as necessary.
  9. Enter a unique value in the ID field that identifies this header cell.
    A unique ID entered to identify the header cell
    Note: The value entered is not what will be read to the assistive technology user. It is basically a behind the scenes code name for the visually displayed content. The trick is to remember the unique value so that it can be associated with the correct content in later steps.
  10. Activate the OK button.
  11. Repeat for each table header cell.
Setting the headers array for each data cell:
  1. Activate the TURO tool under Accessibility in the Tools pane.
  2. Activate the Context menu of the table.
  3. Select Table Editor.
  4. Activate the Context menu of a data cell.
  5. Select Table Cell Properties…
  6. Ensure the Data Cell radio button is selected in the Table Cell Properties dialog.
  7. Adjust the values in the Row Span and Column Span edit boxes as necessary.
  8. Navigate to and activate the Add button Add button for the Associated Header Cell IDs” list box.
  9. Select the matching header cell ID from the Header ID: combo box in the Add Table Header ID dialog.
    Add Table Header ID dialog
    IMPORTANT: Select the header IDs in such a manner that the order in the list box from top to bottom will be the reverse order in which the headers should be read. Using the example table above, the visually implied reading order of the headers for the first data cell would be Project A, Started, Maria; therefore, the first item in the list box needs to be Maria.
  10. Navigate to and activate the OK button.
  11. Add additional header attributes, as needed, for each cell that has multiple headers.
  12. When all header IDs have been added, all associated row and column headers should be listed in the Associated Header IDs list box.
    Table Cell Properties dialog with associated header IDs listed
  13. When finished, navigate to and activate the OK button of the Table Cell Properties dialog.
  14. Repeat the steps above for each table data cell.

Method Two: Editing the Tag Element

Setting the ID:
  1. Locate the header text in the Tags pane.
  2. Select Properties… from the Context menu.
  3. Confirm the TouchUp Properties dialog appears and that Tag is the active tab.
  4. Confirm Table Header Cell is selected in the Type combo box.
  5. Navigate to and activate the Edit Tag button.
  6. Select the Tag Element root node.
    Tag Element root node
  7. Navigate to and activate the New Item button.
  8. Enter ID (case-sensitive) in the Key edit field.
  9. Enter a unique value in the Value edit field.
  10. Note: The value entered is not what will be read to the AT user. It is basically a behind the scenes code name for the visually displayed content. The trick is to remember the unique value so that it can be associated with the correct content in later steps.
  11. Select String from the Value Type combo box.
  12. Navigate to and activate the OK button in the Add Key and Value dialog.
  13. Confirm an item appears under Tag Element that has the structure /ID (Unique_Value).
    /ID and unique value displayed in the Tag Element dialog
  14. Navigate to and activate the OK button in the Tag Element dialog.
  15. Navigate to and activate the Close button in the TouchUp Properties dialog.
  16. Repeat for each table header cell.
Setting the headers array for each data cell:
  1. Locate the data cell text in the Tags pane.
  2. Select Properties… from the Context menu.
  3. Confirm the TouchUp Properties dialog appears and that Tag is the active tab.
  4. Confirm Table Data Cell is selected in the Type combo box.
  5. Navigate to and activate the Edit Attribute Objects button.
  6. Select the Attribute Objects root node.
  7. Navigate to and activate the New Item button.
  8. Select and expand the newly created attribute object.
  9. Select the /O /Layout attribute.
  10. Navigate to and activate the Change Item button.
  11. Enter Table (case-sensitive) in the value field.
  12. Navigate to and activate the OK button.
  13. Confirm the item now reads /O /Table.
  14. Select the item that reads /Attribute Object 1.
  15. Navigate to and activate the New Item button.
  16. Enter Headers (case-sensitive) in the Key field.
  17. Navigate to and select Array from the Value Type combo box.
  18. Navigate to and activate the OK button.
  19. Select the /Headers [Array] attribute.
    /Headers [Array] added and highlighted in the Attributes dialog
  20. Navigate to and activate the New Item button.
  21. Enter a header cell ID previously created into the Value edit field. The ID entered in this field is case sensitive and needs to be the exact, unique value previously created.
  22. Navigate to and select String from the Value Type combo box.
  23. Navigate to and activate the OK button.
  24. Add the additional header attributes to the array, as needed, for each cell that has multiple headers.
  25. When all associated headers for one data cell have been added to the headers array, confirm there are multiple nested items under the /Headers [Array] item.
    The attributes dialog with the Headers array using the unique IDs previously set
  26. When done with a data cell, navigate to and activate the OK button in the Attributes dialog.
  27. Navigate to and activate the Close button in the TouchUp Properties dialog.
  28. Repeat the steps to add the associated headers for each table data cell.

 

Glossary in new window Resources in new window   Back Next