Techniques for WCAG 2.0

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F91: Failure of Success Criterion 1.3.1 for not correctly marking up table headers



This failure relates to:

User Agent and Assistive Technology Support Notes

Screen reader support for navigating data tables with and without correct header mark-up varies.


This failure occurs when data tables do not use header elements (th) or other appropriate table mark-up (the scope attribute, headers and id or the ARIA roles columnheader / rowheader) to make the headers programatically determinable from within table content. Making headers programmatically determinable is especially important when data cells are only intelligible together with header information. When screen reader users navigate through the table content horizontally or vertically, the headers that change can be read out to provide the necessary context for the information in the data cells.


Example 1: Headers not marked up appropriately

This table does not use th (or other appropriate header markup) for headers. Instead, it uses td elements for all cells. Navigating cell by cell, screen readers will often fail to read the header cells associated with content.

Example Code:

      <td>Height (cm)</td>
      <td>Weight (kg)</td>

View example 1 (opens in same browser window)



For all data tables, check if table headers can be correctly programmatically determined by use of one of the following mechanisms:

  1. headers marked up with table header (th) elements, optionally with scope attributes

  2. headers and data cells associated using headers and id attributes

  3. headers marked up as td elements with the scope attribute

  4. headers marked up with ARIA role attributes rowheader or columnheader

Expected Results

Techniques are Informative

Techniques are informative—that means they are not required. The basis for determining conformance to WCAG 2.0 is the success criteria from the WCAG 2.0 standard—not the techniques. For important information about techniques, please see the Understanding Techniques for WCAG Success Criteria section of Understanding WCAG 2.0.