Tables in Word
This information relates to criterion 1.3.1. Info and Relationships, which states:
Information, structure, and relationships conveyed through presentation can be programmatically determined or are available in text.
When a sighted person looks at a Word document, they take in lots of visual information, often subconsciously, about its structure. By their nature, tables are designed to be visual.
It is good practice to give all tables, graphs, charts and diagrams a title. A title helps orient the reader so that they know what information they are about to read. This is particularly helpful when the user cannot see the page.
For screen reader users, a table title has an additional role. The user can bring up a list of all tables in a document and navigate to them by reading through their titles. If there is no title, the information in the tables list becomes incomprehensible.
The following video shows you how to give your table a title that is accessible to screen readers.
Column and row headers
As a sighted user, tables are a great way to display data. I can look at a cell, scan up to read the column header and scan left to read the row header, and I can make sense of the information. This is more difficult for a blind person. They shouldn't have to memorise all of the column and row headers in order to understand the contents of a cell.
If you designate the column headers and/or row headers correctly, a screen reader user will be able to click in a cell and hear the contents of that cell, along with the relevant header information. That gives them an equal experience.
The following video shows you how to mark headers correctly.