Setting Document Language
To make your Excel documents accessible, you’ll need to first set the correct language for a screen reader to use. To do so, navigate to the File tab.
From the menu, select Options.
On the Options Menu, select Language.
On the Language Menu, select the appropriate language. If needed, you can also select Set as Default. Screen readers and other assistive technologies should now read your document in the correct language.
To enable screen readers to read your Excel files correctly, you will need to create headings that identify titles and major sections of your worksheets.
To create a heading, first create or select a cell with heading information in it. In this example, I have a series of charts, so I need a heading called Charts.
Once you have selected the cell with the heading information in it, go to the Home tab and select Cell Styles. Select the appropriate heading.
If you have information that needs to be presented as a table, you will also need to format your data as a table and set an additional set of headings. Once you’ve formatted correctly, screen readers will be able to identify your data as a table and read your information accurately.
To set table headings, first select a cell with a table heading in it. In this example, I have two table headings: Pet Type and Population.
The table information now needs to be formatted as a table. To create this formatting, select Format as Table.
In the dialogue box that appears, check the box beside My table has headers and select OK.
In addition to creating headings, you will also need to make sure you name your sheets, so screen readers can help users navigate your files. To do so, navigate to the bottom of the Excel file. The default name will be Sheet 1, Sheet 2, etc.
Right-click on the sheet you want to rename. From the menu, choose Rename.
The cursor in front of the sheet name should animate, and you can edit the name.
When screen readers encounter charts and graphs, they read them as images. Unless alternative text (alt-text) describing what is in the image, chart, or graph is provided, a screen reader will simply announce “Image” and move on. To set the alt-text of an image, chart, or graph in Excel, start by selecting the image, chart of graph.
Right click on the image. From the menu, select Edit Alt Text.
The Alt Text Pane will open on the right hand side of the screen. Fill in your alt-text and X out of the pane.