MS Excel Chapter 6: Charts, Graphs, and Other Visual Data

How do I create an accessible chart in Microsoft Excel?

 Instructions

Section 6.1: Making Charts

  1. After you have a created your data for a chart, highlight your data and select the Insert Tab.

    A table showing the most popular sports by percentage
    Insert Tab in Excel
  2. In the Chart section, click the Pie Chart Icon. Select the chart you would like to use.

    Pie Chart Button in Excel
  3. You now have a pie chart of your data, but it is inaccessible to some readers. Lots of important information is missing in this chart. The percentage information is missing. A color blind user may not be able to tell which section is dedicated to which sport. Other users may not be able to tell the colors apart or know what the chart is trying to show them.

    4. To make the pie chart accessible to all readers, click on the chart and click the plus sign in the top right corner. This will allow you to modify your chart and add information. In the chart below, Data Labels were added to show readers the sports in each section and their percentage of popularity. Another good thing to do is check the sections color contrast ratio to the text.

Rules for Accessible Charts

When creating accessible charts, it is important to be sure that all graphs, and charts are fully labeled. Labels make it easier for screen readers to tell the information to the student. Most of the time it is also beneficial to readers who want additional queues on the information. To make your chart accessible, the following rules must be followed.

Rule 1: Always label everything

You now have a pie chart of your data, but it is inaccessible to some readers. Lots of important information is missing in this chart. The percentage information is missing. A color blind user may not be able to tell which section is dedicated to which sport. Other users may not be able to tell the colors apart or know what the chart is trying to show them.

In the chart above, Data Labels were added to show readers the sports in each section and their percentage of popularity. Another good thing to do is check the sections color contrast ratio to the text.

Rule 2: Charts and Graphs must not rely on color as the only way to show information

This graph has two lines that look similar with color being their only difference. A person who is color blind may not be able to tell the difference between the the lines.

Rule 3: All charts and graphs must have a complete description.

Section 6.2: Images

When making accessible images in Microsoft Excel, there are two types of images: Meaningful and Decorative. Meaningful images are images that have importance to a spreadsheet. Decorative images are meaningless images and only added to the spreadsheet for the purpose of making it look nice. In both cases, the images need Alternative Text.

  1. To add Alternative Text, click your image.

  2. Go to the Picture Format Tab, then click the Accessibility Button.

  3. In the Alt Text panel, explain your image in 150 characters or less. If this image is supposed to be decorative, just click the check box.

Section 6.3: Using Embedded Files

It is best to only have one embedded file on each sheet. Follow these instructions to add embedded files.

  1. Go to the Insert Tab, and click the Object Button

  2. In the Object Box, go to the Create From File Tab and choose your document or presentation. Be sure to check the box “Display as Icon”. Click OK.

  3. Your embedded file will appear on the worksheet

Section 6.4: Word Art, Smart Art, Text Boxes, and other Floating Objects

When using any of these floating objects, you have to include a text alternative if there is any important information.

Section 6.5: Watermarks and Backgrounds

All creators should avoid using any watermarks or backgrounds that distract from the actual text or image of a document. It is best to simply not use them at all. One of the most common examples of a water mark is when a person creates a draft or confidential. Instead of using a watermark, just type up at the top, “This worksheet is a draft”. This will make it easy for a screen reader to read the warning or information to a reader.

Section 6.6: Including Video and Audio

There are three main methods to including a video or audio file in Excel.

  1. Embed the file as an object. The main advantage is that the file is directly contained in the Excel File. However, the size of the file can become very large and it would be hard to share with others.

  2. Create a link to the file in a shared location. The main advantage is that the file size does not increase. However, both files must be in the same, shared location so all users can have access to them.

  3. Linking a file that has been uploaded online. The main advantage is that it is accessible to any user with Wi-Fi, and it will not make the file bigger. This is the recommended approach.

Rules for accessible videos and audio in Microsoft Excel

Rule 1: Videos with dialogue must have a full transcript and captions

Rule 2: Videos without dialogue must have a text description and audio description

Rule 3: Audio only elements must have a full transcript

Rule 4: If the video or audio element is embedded as an object, all of the rules for embedded files must be followed.

  1. There is only one embedded object in the worksheet.

  2. There is an explicit alert that an embedded object is present.

  3. Instructions for how to access the file and how to return back to the cell layer are present.

  4. The type of file and the contents of the file are made explicitly clear in cell A1.

Section 6.7: Flashing Content

An Excel workbook must not have any content that flashes more than 3 times per second. Lots of flashes can be triggering for people who get epileptic seizures.