Tables and Forms with JAWS and MAGic

EXERCISE: If you are participating in the live webinar, please open this page outside of the training room and follow along with the instructor. If you are participating via the recorded archive you do not need to do this, since the archived recordings are already running in your browser, not the online training room.

HTML Tables

Tables are used primarily on the Web for two purposes:

PDF Tables

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. PDF files are found on the Web in many places, especially when an author wants the page to maintain the original formatting of fonts, sizing, colors, and layout of the page or form. PDF documents may or may not be created with accessibility in mind. It is up to the author of each document to take the extra steps during document creation to make that document not only usable but accessible. This applies to ALL documents: print, PDF, Web, and other electronic documents.


EXERCISE: Open a sample copy of a PDF document that has a table in it for practice with table reading commands.

How JAWS Detects Tables

JAWS can be set to detect only data tables, or to detect all tables, including tables used to format the layout of the page. The nesting level of each table is also announced. Tables are often used to provide page layout formatting, so setting this option to All Tables can provide a lot of information on some pages.

The things that determine a data table for JAWS include the following:

  1. If the table tag uses a datatable=1 or datatable=TRUE attribute then it is assumed to be a data table. This is not a true HTML attribute but it can be used.
  2. Next, the number of valid cells are counted; there must be at least two rows with a valid cell count.
  3. A cell is valid both if its size can be obtained and is between 200 and 16000 pixels, or if its size can't be obtained and it contains text. (Cells only containing graphics are not considered valid.)
  4. A row is valid if it contains at least two valid cells.
  5. Improvements were made with JAWS 11.0.746 (December 17, 2009) to the way JAWS recognizes all data tables that are tagged with the <th> component.

The table below is an example of a layout table:


picture of what looks like the word JAWS, color black picture of what looks like the word JAWS, color purple
picture of what looks like the word MAGic, color black picture of what looks like the words PAC Mate, color purple


EXERCISE: Press T to look for tables on the page. Did you find any?

Press INSERT+V and uncheck the check box for Layout Tables Ignore.

Repeat the process above when you are finished so that JAWS again ignores layout tables. Also notice the JAWS announcements prior to and after the table. What does JAWS announce?


This option controls whether or not JAWS recognizes tables used exclusively for formatting purposes. Such tables are often used as navigation bars at the top, bottom, or side of the Web page and for placement of graphics or other objects on the page.

Table Practice

Open the Surf's Up Tables Web page and follow along with the instructor.

Forms Practice

Open the Surf's Up Forms Web page and follow along with the instructor.

For more practice, open the sample PDF form and see how it works with JAWS.

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