6 Replies Latest reply on Apr 2, 2014 12:59 PM by Danny Occoquan

    Quick way to assign table header IDs to data cells?

    Danny Occoquan Level 1

      Acrobat X (10.1.9)

       

      For accessibility of tables with complex headers, is there a quick way to assign header IDs to data cells associated with them?  I haven't found any faster way than going one cell at a time.

       

      All tags already have an ID, this question is how to quickly assign IDs of the header cells to all data cells in a row or column.

       

      Even better, is there a feature or plug-in that looks at a table's column and row spanning, and automatically assigns headers to all data cells?

       

      I've used Table Inspector in Acrobat, and a several-years-old version of the CommonLook plug-in. Both of these allow you to set various properties to all cells in a selection. And they act like they happily set header IDs for multiple cells, but after clicking OK and looking at cell properties, TI doesn't set it for any of them, and CL only sets it for the first cell that was selected.

       

      I prepare PDFs of scientific reports for Section 508 compliance. Often they are hundreds of pages long and have scores of large tables. Some clients insist on complex headers. Going cell by cell is astonishingly time-consuming.

        • 1. Re: Quick way to assign table header IDs to data cells?
          a C student Level 3

          Hi Danny,

           

          The table editor in Acrobat XI is improved in some respects over X but still behaves exactly as you describe on table IDs – it pretends to allow IDs to be set for multiple cells but they do not stick.

           

          You may want to evaluate the current CommonLook. It reportedly excels at tagging complex tables. I evaluated it quite some time ago and was underwhelmed, but I understand it has improved.

           

          You might also be able to cheat a bit on some tables, using alt text (see raeben3’s post here http://forums.adobe.com/thread/1188165) or adding blank cells to the table tag structure to “regularize” the table. In other cases you may be able to deviate from the visual table representation and tag the content as a series of sub-headings and smaller, regular tables or lists. In some cases you will have to bite the bullet and use spanning properties and header IDs.

           

          Hope this helps.

           

          a 'C' student

          1 person found this helpful
          • 2. Re: Quick way to assign table header IDs to data cells?
            StargazersUnited

            I feel your table pain. If I find anything, I'll let you know. But I'm in the same boat.

            • 3. Re: Quick way to assign table header IDs to data cells?
              raeben3 Level 3

              I'm running the latest version of CommonLook and it handles assigning ID tags very well.  You can select multiple cells and Assign them to a header.  You can also select the same cells and assign them to another header  using "Append". This will add the new header, without deleting the previously assigned header.  In earlier versions Append did not work for me.   This is what you need if you have long complex tables.  If you get the current version and this is not the case call Tech Support, as the plug-in is not working properly.  The Touch Up Reading Order Tool does not do this.

               

              I occasionally create white/hidden text for heading text that spans multiple columns and then create individual <TH> to hold them, but I wouldn't rely on this for long tables or use it as my main method. It's a quick enough fix in isolated cases--or if your author likes to leave Row 1, Column 1 blank you can create your own invisible header for the screen reader.  But it is too hard to check and not the best road to follow. Also hidden text is considered a no-no by some as it is assumed to be a drop out/drop behind, or error in layout.

              • 4. Re: Quick way to assign table header IDs to data cells?
                Danny Occoquan Level 1

                Thanks for your response.  Yes, I've run into some tables so complex that the only way to make accessible was to artifact the whole thing and present as alt text. Fortunately most of the complex tables I work with just have spanned column and/or row headers.

                 

                And right, not unusual for lists to come to us in table tag format, sometimes it's obvious and sometimes you have to actually deciper it to determine it's really not a table, we have to watch for that & remove the table structure.

                • 5. Re: Quick way to assign table header IDs to data cells?
                  Danny Occoquan Level 1

                  Thanks for your response, nice to know I'm not alone!  :-)

                  • 6. Re: Quick way to assign table header IDs to data cells?
                    Danny Occoquan Level 1

                    Thanks for your response.  Sounds like I need to make a case with management to upgrade our version of CommonLook.