All cells in a <table> element that use the headers attribute must only refer to other cells of that same table

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Rule Description

Data table markup can be tedious and confusing. It is important that it is done semantically and with the correct header structure. Screen readers have a number of features to make table navigation easier, but tables must be marked up accurately for these features to work properly.

The Algorithm, in Simple Terms

Checks that data tables are marked up semantically and have the correct header structure

Why this is Important

Screen readers have a specific way of announcing tables. When tables are not properly marked up, this creates the opportunity for confusing or inaccurate screen reader output.

How to Fix the Problem

To fix the problem, ensure that each cell in a table using headers refers to another cell in the same table. This rule checks that references to headers is done right with data cells.

Compliance Data & User Impact

User Impact: Serious
Disabilities Affected:
  • Blindness
  • Deafblindness
Issue Type:
  • WCAG 2.0 (A): MUST
  • Section 508: MUST
WCAG Success Criteria:
  • 1.3.1 Info and Relationships
Section 508 Guidelines:
  • 1194.22 (g) Row and column headers for data tables

Related Deque University Course Pages

Related Deque Code Library Examples

Other Related Resources

Additional Information

Relevant Technologies:
  • HTML 4
  • HTML 5
Relevant Custom Widget Type(s):
  • Table - Sortable
  • Table - Responsive
Test Reliability: Automated testing is possible, with high accuracy
Rule ID: td-headers-attr