Excel Accessibility Checklist

This document is also available in Microsoft Word format. Microsoft Excel Accessibility Checklist (DOC)


  • Before distributing the file, address all warnings and errors in the Microsoft Excel Accessibility checker. Please see Rules used by the accessibility checker
    Rationale: The accessibility checker addresses a number of accessibility issues. The Accessibility checker is available in Microsoft Office 2010 and 2013.
  • Specify column header information in Excel tables
    Rationale: Having clear column headings can help provide context and assist navigation of the table’s contents.
  • Avoid using blank cells, rows, or columns for formatting.
    Rationale: Blank cells, rows, or columns could mislead someone using a screen reader into thinking that there is nothing more in the table.
  • Provide meaningful names for the workbook and for each spreadsheet in the file.
    Rationale: Screen readers will read these names, which aides in navigation.
  • Provide alternative descriptions for images, formulas, and other items that do not translate naturally into text.
    Rationale: Non-text elements such as pictures, graphs, charts, and other items require alternative text to describe the visual characteristics.
  • Include closed captions for any audio or video
    Rationale: Captions (videos) or transcripts (audio files) are essential components of multimedia access for individuals with hearing loss or auditory processing issues.
  • If the permissions of the document are set to prevent editing, either allow formatting changes, or provide an additional copy of document as accessible PDF or HTML (web page).
    Rationale: Students with poor visual acuity and those with certain learning disabilities, such as dyslexia, may need to alter text with poor contrast, small type, or fonts with serifs.

Additional usability considerations (suggested but not required)

  • (Optional) Text descriptions of links to websites should be explicit in describing what the reader will encounter when clicking the link (i.e. “Montclair State University Digital Policy website.”)
    Rationale: Screen reader users often list the hyperlinks in a document; a series of “read more” links is meaningless. “Mike’s Auto Shop” is more meaningful than “http://www.mikefixescars.com”
  • (Optional) Provide a general description of the spreadsheet contents and navigation in cell A1. It will be the first cell accessed by assistive technologies.
    Rationale: Makes navigation much easier
  • (Optional) If the workbook contains more than 4 worksheets, create a worksheet with links to each worksheet.
    Rationale: This makes it easier for the user to navigate the workbook.
  • (Optional) Use cell addressing (cell/range naming)
    Rationale: When using the shortcut Ctrl + G a dialog box will open and the screen reader will read all of the defined making it easier to navigate
  • (Optional) Avoid merging cells.
    Rationale: this can make it more difficult for users of assistive technologies and people navigating your spreadsheet using the keyboard.

Sources and Additional Resources

The following resources are available to assist with creating accessible documents:

Color Contrast Tools

To help determine contrast ratios, it is recommended that you use a tool such as: