Spreadsheet Accessibility Features

Level: Basic

Available Durations:

  • 50 minutes
  • 60 minutes
  • 75 minutes
  • 90 minutes
  • 100 minutes
  • 120 minutes


In this timely presentation Excel expert David H. Ringstrom, CPA shows you how you can make spreadsheets accessible for users relying on assistive technology. Not surprisingly doing so actually makes spreadsheets more accessible for all users. David will show you how to make spreadsheets that are compatible with Section 508 of the United States federal law that requires all users to have equal access to government documents. You’ll learn design strategies, shortcuts, and how to use the Accessibility Checker in certain Excel versions to check for issues before sharing a workbook.

David demonstrates every technique at least twice: first, on a PowerPoint slide with numbered steps, and second, in the subscription-based Microsoft 365 (formerly Office 365) version of Excel. David draws your attention to any differences in the older versions of Excel (2021, 2019, 2016, and earlier) during the presentation as well as in his detailed handouts. David also provides an Excel workbook that includes most of the examples he uses during the webcast.

Microsoft 365 is a subscription-based product that provides new feature updates as often as monthly. Conversely, the perpetual licensed versions of Excel have feature sets that don’t change. Perpetual licensed versions have year numbers, such as Excel 2021, Excel 2019, and so on.

Topics/Areas Typically Covered:

  • Adding descriptive text to hyperlinks so that the user can determine the purpose or destination through context.
  • Assigning descriptive file names when saving documents in the .XLSX file format for compatibility with screen readers and accessible testing software.
  • Assigning meaningful sheet names so that users have a sense of what data is being presented.
  • Avoiding storing vital info in headers and footers, such as Confidential or Do Not Distribute because it falls outside of the reading order and doesn’t appear on the worksheet.
  • Checking that color contrast is sufficient to ensure accessibility for all.
  • Complying with the United States federal law known as Section 508 that governs equal access to government information for people with and without disabilities.
  • Creating a logical reading order for spreadsheets so that they can be navigated cell by cell with arrow keys.
  • Creating title and heading levels with cell styles.
  • Disabling the start-up screen in Microsoft 365 so that you can get to a blank spreadsheet faster.
  • Double-checking manual inputs easily by having Excel read numbers aloud to you.
  • Eliminating pictures of data in spreadsheets because the information is inaccessible via assistive technology.
  • Enabling users utilizing assistive technology to safely disregard stylistic elements of a spreadsheet by marking them as decorative.

Learning Objectives/Why You Should Attend:

  • State which feature in Excel can read text aloud to users.
  • State how to add alternate text to floating objects in Excel spreadsheets to improve accessibility.
  • State the purpose of cell styles.

Target Industries:

  • Accounting and Finance
  • Business
  • Excel Users
  • Consulting
  • IT
  • Auditing
  • Human Resources
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Government
  • Tax

Target Job Title:

  • Accountants
  • CPAs
  • CFOs
  • Controllers
  • Income Tax Preparers
  • Enrolled Agents
  • Financial Consultants
  • IT Professionals
  • Auditors
  • Human Resource Personnel
  • Bookkeepers
  • Excel Users
  • Marketers
  • Government Personnel

About the Instructor:

David H. Ringstrom, CPA is the owner of Accounting Advisors, Inc., an Atlanta-based spreadsheet consulting firm that he started in 1991. Throughout his career, David has spoken at conferences on Microsoft Excel, and written dozens of freelance articles about spreadsheets. He offers Excel and Access training and consulting services nationwide.

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