Linearization and Document Reading Order

Overview

The reading order of documents for people using screen readers is based on the order of content in the HTML document. Table markup and styling can often make content look visually connected in a graphical rendering, but in the underlying HTML content that which is grouped visually is often not grouped in the document order. Using CSS for layout helps keep related content grouped, but not all developers are ready to move to tableless designs. Tables should keep related content in the same table cell and that content should still make sense when table markup and/or CSS layout markup is removed.

Benefits to People with Disabilities

  1. Screen reader users

Benefits to Everyone

  1. Reducing table markup makes web pages smaller so they will download faster.

Benefits to Developers

  1. Reduction in the use of table markup and related content kept in the same table cell makes the maintenace of websites easier to manage.

More Information

  1. Table Manners: Creating accessible tables for both layout and data
  2. CSS Mastery: Fixed-Width, Liquid, and Elastic Layouts and Faux Columns
  3. Liquid Designs

Markup

postion[absolute] (CSS2.1)

The CSS position propert can be used in combination with the tr and td elements to layout blocks of content for a graphical rendering. The use of table markup for layout should be avoided in accessible design. Instead, CSS float and clear properties should be used for positioning blocks of content. If table markup is used for graphical layout, the markup should be restricted to the use of the tr and td elements. Other table elements including th element and summary attribute should not be used.

table (HTML4)

The table element can be used in combination with the tr and td elements to layout blocks of content for a graphical rendering. The use of table markup for layout should be avoided in accessible design. Instead, CSS float and clear properties should be used for positioning blocks of content. If table markup is used for graphical layout, the markup should be restricted to the use of the tr and td elements. Other table elements including th element and summary attribute should not be used.

Related Accessibility Requirements

Section 508

Illinois Information Technology Accessibility Standards

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0

Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 1.0