The Universal Design Toolkit

The Universal Design Toolkit is a set of simple principles to apply to your course materials that allows instructors to provide content that works for everyone. There are practices to follow for Documents and Presentations; Audio and Video; and Utilities and Tools. Tables are one of the principles in the toolkit.


Tables are an effective way of presenting data in documents and presentations. If you cannot present your data clearly in one or two sentences consider using a table. Tables should include column titles, also known as a header row to help structure the table so that students can easily understand the data presented. You should follow the guidelines below to ensure data tables are accessible for all students:

Tables Best Practices

  1. Include a header row - The first row of the table should state what kind of information is contained in each column (rows go across and columns go down).
  2. Use a Simple Table Structure - A simple table has a single header at the top of each column and optionally a single header in the first column of each row.
  3. Avoid complex tables  - A complex table has multiple levels of row or column headers and headers that span multiple rows or columns with merged or split cells.
  4. Add Alt Text to the Table - Use alt text to add a short summary of the information provided in the table so that screen reader users know what information can be found in the table.
  5. Avoid empty cells for formatting - It may be tempting to use empty cells to visually format the table, but this practice is problematic for blind users reading the table with a screen reader

NOTE: Avoid using tables just to make the layout of a page look a certain way. It is best to only use tables when presenting rows and columns of related information.


Support Options

  1. Contact an Instructional Design Partner to assist you making instructional materials are usable by as many people as possible, regardless of disability or assistive technology in your course. Access is the responsibility of instructors creating and teaching courses. 
  2. To request technical support, submit a Technology Service Desk email to start a ticket. 


Article ID: 105004
Thu 4/9/20 2:22 PM
Tue 6/23/20 1:35 PM