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Perplexed Owl Random Ponderings

Benjamin ‘Benilda’ Key:

Layout tables, with and without the presentation role

Screen Reader Reliability Testing


This page demonstrates the use of the table element for web page layout. There are two layout tables in this web page. The first layout table is not accessible because it does not have the presentation role. The second layout table is accessible because it does have the presentation role.


An inaccessible layout table.

A long time ago, it was commonplace for web page authors to achieve complex web page layouts using tables to control where the content was positioned. This was before the widespread adoption of CSS.

This technique is frowned upon in modern times. However, it is still useful, but only if the table is marked up as a layout table by setting the role attribute to presentation. Failure to set the role attribute to presentation causes various accessibility issues.

This table is used only for layout but it does not have the role attribute set to presentation. Reading this table is not a pleasant experience for screen reader users.

Ad: ARC Toolkit is a useful extension to Chrome’s Developer Tools that helps with accessibility testing. ARC Toolkit is developed by TPGi, a Vispero company.

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