MS Excel Chapter 8: Math, Equations, and Formulas


Most formulas and math equations come as floating objects. Such objects cannot be read by a screen reader and are therefore, inaccessible. To avoid inaccessible content being sent, we must find a more accessible solution for how to write our formulas.

Inaccessible Math Formula Area of a circle equals pi times r squared. Equation covers multiple cells.

This equation is a floating object and spreads out over multiple cells. This is inaccessible, and overall does not look presentable.

Section 8.1: How to make a Floating Object with an Alt Text

When you create your formulas, you always want to be sure you have a text alternative in Cell A1. This will make it easier for screen readers to read the information. Also, make sure you do not use any symbols for the alternative text and only use words.

  1. Type of formula in Cell A1. Only use regular text and no symbols.

    Area of a circle equals pi r squared now has a text version.
  2. Now change the Font Color to white to match the background.

  3. Resize cell A1 and fit your formula inside it. Now you have a formula with a hidden text alternative, but will still be read by a screen reader.

You can use this method for many formulas, including expressions.

One more rule to follow is to make sure your individual formulas are in one cell.

The formulas are typed in one cell and interferes with the cell next to it. This would be very hard for a person using a screen reader to understand.

Section 8.2: Math Equations without Floating Objects

The best way to create an equation that is accessible is to type out the whole equation without symbols.

Section 8.3: Excel Functions

Most Excel functions are accessible for readers, and can be read by both JAWS and NVDA. However, the software will only read the formula character by character. This process can take a long time to complete and can be very time consuming for the students. To avoid this issue, type in the name of the formula and an abbreviation above the cell containing the results.