All table header cells have assigned data cells


Description

This rule checks that each table header has assigned data cells in a table element.

Applicability

The rule applies to any HTML element with the semantic role of rowheader or columnheader for which all of the following is true:

Expectation

Each target element is assigned to at least one element with a semantic role of cell or gridcell.

Assumptions

This rule assumes that table header cells have a relationship conveyed through presentation with other cells within the same table. This excludes edge cases such as a table definition where there is only one header cell, or a table definition where there are multiple headers and no other cells. In such scenarios the rule fails, but success criterion 1.3.1 Info and Relationships could still be satisfied.

Accessibility Support

  • Table markup and header cell association is not well supported by some popular assistive technologies. Passing this rule can still cause issues for users of those assistive technologies.
  • Implementation of Presentational Roles Conflict Resolution varies from one browser or assistive technology to another. Depending on this, some elements can have one of the applicable semantic roles and fail this rule with some technology but users of other technologies would not experience any accessibility issue.

Background

Test Cases

Passed

Passed Example 1

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This th element has an assigned td element.

<table>
	<tr>
		<th>Time</th>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>05:41</td>
	</tr>
</table>

Passed Example 2

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Each of the 2 span elements with role of columnheader has assigned span elements with a role of cell.

<div role="table">
	<div role="rowgroup">
		<div role="row">
			<span role="columnheader">Month</span>
			<span role="columnheader">Top Temperature</span>
		</div>
	</div>
	<div role="rowgroup">
		<div role="row">
			<span role="cell">July</span>
			<span role="cell">40 C</span>
		</div>
		<div role="row">
			<span role="cell">August</span>
			<span role="cell">45 C</span>
		</div>
	</div>
</div>

Passed Example 3

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Each of the 2 th elements has an assigned td element because this td element spans 2 columns.

<table>
	<thead>
		<tr>
			<th>Projects</th>
			<th>Exams</th>
		</tr>
	</thead>
	<tbody>
		<tr>
			<td colspan="2">15%</td>
		</tr>
	</tbody>
</table>

Passed Example 4

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Each of the 4 th elements has an assigned td element, within the same table element having a semantic role of grid.

<table role="grid">
	<thead>
		<tr role="row">
			<td></td>
			<th scope="col" role="columnheader">Breakfast</th>
			<th scope="col" role="columnheader">Lunch</th>
			<th scope="col" role="columnheader">Dinner</th>
		</tr>
	</thead>
	<tbody>
		<tr role="row">
			<th scope="row" role="rowheader">Day 1</th>
			<td>8:00</td>
			<td>13:00</td>
			<td>18:00</td>
		</tr>
	</tbody>
</table>

Passed Example 5

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Each of the 2 th elements has an assigned td element because the headers attribute assigns the th with id equal to "col2" to the td element.

<table>
	<tr>
		<th id="col1">Cities</th>
		<th id="col2">Count</th>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>Paris</td>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td headers="col2">1</td>
	</tr>
</table>

Failed

Failed Example 1

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The th element with text "Value" does not have an assigned cell within the same table element.

<table>
	<thead>
		<tr>
			<th>Rate</th>
			<th>Value</th>
		</tr>
	</thead>
	<tbody>
		<tr>
			<td>15%</td>
		</tr>
	</tbody>
</table>

Failed Example 2

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This th element with id equal to "col2" does not have an assigned cell within the same table element because the headers attribute removes the cell association from its column.

<table>
	<tr>
		<th id="col1">Country</th>
		<th id="col2">Starting with a Z</th>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>Zambia</td>
		<td headers="col1">Zimbabwe</td>
	</tr>
</table>

Failed Example 3

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This div with role of columnheader and text equal to "Occupant" does not have an assigned cell within the same table element.

<div role="grid">
	<div role="row">
		<div role="columnheader">Room</div>
		<div role="columnheader">Occupant</div>
	</div>
	<div role="row">
		<div role="gridcell">1A</div>
	</div>
	<div role="row">
		<div role="gridcell">2A</div>
	</div>
</div>

Inapplicable

Inapplicable Example 1

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There are no elements with a semantic role of header within the table element.

<table>
	<tr>
		<td>12:00</td>
	</tr>
</table>

Inapplicable Example 2

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There are no elements with a semantic role of header within the table element.

<table></table>

Inapplicable Example 3

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This th element has an explicit role of cell and there are no more elements with a semantic role of header within the table element.

<table>
	<tr>
		<th role="cell">Column A</th>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>Cell A</td>
	</tr>
</table>

Inapplicable Example 4

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This th element is neither visible nor included in the accessibility tree and there are no more elements with a semantic role of header within the table element.

<table>
	<tr>
		<th style="display: none;">Organization</th>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>W3C</td>
	</tr>
</table>

Inapplicable Example 5

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This th element is not included in the accessibility tree and there are no more elements with a semantic role of header within the table element.

<table>
	<tr>
		<th aria-hidden="true">Organization</th>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>W3C</td>
	</tr>
</table>

Inapplicable Example 6

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This th element is not a descendant in the flat tree of an element with a semantic role of either table or grid.

<div>
	<tr>
		<th>Column A</th>
	</tr>
</div>

Inapplicable Example 7

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This th element is part of a table which is not included in the accessibility tree.

<table role="presentation">
	<tr>
		<th>Time</th>
	</tr>
	<tr>
		<td>12:00</td>
	</tr>
</table>

Glossary

Explicit Semantic Role

The explicit semantic role of an element is determined by its role attribute (if any).

The role attribute takes a list of tokens. The explicit semantic role is the first valid role in this list. The valid roles are all non-abstract roles from WAI-ARIA Specifications. If the element has no role attribute, or if it has one with no valid role, then this element has no explicit semantic role.

Other roles may be added as they become available. Not all roles will be supported in all assistive technologies. Testers are encouraged to adjust which roles are allowed according to the accessibility support base line. For the purposes of executing test cases in all rules, it should be assumed that all roles are supported by assistive technologies so that none of the roles fail due to lack of accessibility support.

Accessibility Support for Explicit Semantic Role

Some browsers and assistive technologies treat the tokens of the role attribute as case-sensitive. Unless lowercase letters are used for the value of the role attribute, not all user agents will be able to interpret the tokens correctly. ARIA in HTML (working draft) also specifies that authors must use lowercase letters for the role and aria-* attributes.

Included in the accessibility tree

Elements included in the accessibility tree of platform specific accessibility APIs. Elements in the accessibility tree are exposed to assistive technologies, allowing users to interact with the elements in a way that meet the requirements of the individual user.

The general rules for when elements are included in the accessibility tree are defined in the core accessibility API mappings. For native markup languages, such as HTML and SVG, additional rules for when elements are included in the accessibility tree can be found in the HTML accessibility API mappings (working draft) and the SVG accessibility API mappings (working draft).

Note: Users of assistive technologies might still be able to interact with elements that are not included in the accessibility tree. An example of this is a focusable element with an aria-hidden attribute with a value of true. Such an element could still be interacted with using sequential keyboard navigation regardless of the assistive technologies used, even though the element would not be included in the accessibility tree.

Examples for Included in the accessibility tree

Note: The examples presented here are non-normative and not testable. They serve to illustrate some common pitfalls about the definition and to help implementers of ACT rules understand it.

This span element is included in the accessibility tree (by default, elements are included in the accessibility tree).

<span>ACT rules</span>

This span element is not included in the accessibility tree because it is hidden to everybody by the CSS property.

<span style="display:none">ACT rules</span>

This span element is not included in the accessibility tree because it is explicitly removed by the aria-hidden attribute.

<span aria-hidden="true">ACT rules</span>

This span element is positioned off screen, hence is not visible, but is nonetheless included in the accessibility tree.

<span style="position: absolute; top:-9999em">ACT rules</span>

Although the span element with an id of "label" is not itself included in the accessibility tree, it still provides an accessible name to the other span, via the aria-labelledby attribute. Thus, it is still indirectly exposed to users of assistive technologies. Removing an element from the accessibility tree is not enough to remove all accessibility concerns from it since it can still be indirectly exposed.

<span id="label" style="display:none">ACT rules</span>
<span aria-labelledby="label">Accessibility Conformance Testing rules</span>

Although this input element is not included in the accessibility tree, it is still focusable, hence users of assistive technologies can still interact with it by sequential keyboard navigation. This may result in confusing situations for such users (and is in direct violation of the fourth rule of ARIA (working draft)).

<input type="text" aria-hidden="true" name="fname" />

Outcome

An outcome is a conclusion that comes from evaluating an ACT Rule on a test subject or one of its constituent test target. An outcome can be one of the three following types:

  • Inapplicable: No part of the test subject matches the applicability
  • Passed: A test target meets all expectations
  • Failed: A test target does not meet all expectations

Note: A rule has one passed or failed outcome for every test target. When there are no test targets the rule has one inapplicable outcome. This means that each test subject will have one or more outcomes.

Note: Implementations using the EARL10-Schema can express the outcome with the outcome property. In addition to passed, failed and inapplicable, EARL 1.0 also defined an incomplete outcome. While this cannot be the outcome of an ACT Rule when applied in its entirety, it often happens that rules are only partially evaluated. For example, when applicability was automated, but the expectations have to be evaluated manually. Such "interim" results can be expressed with the incomplete outcome.

Semantic Role

The semantic role of an element is determined by the first of these cases that applies:

  1. Conflict If the element is marked as decorative, but the element is included in the accessibility tree; or would be included in the accessibility tree when its hidden state is false, then its semantic role is its implicit role.
  2. Explicit If the element has an explicit role, then its semantic role is its explicit role.
  3. Implicit The semantic role of the element is its implicit role.

Accessibility Support for Definition of Semantic Role for Semantic Role

  • There exist popular web browsers and assistive technologies which do not correctly implement Presentational Roles Conflict Resolution. These technologies will not include in the accessibility tree elements that should be, according to Specifications. Thus, some elements that should have their semantic role fixed by case Conflict above are instead falling into case Explicit and are hidden for users of assistive technologies.
  • A similar conflict exists for focusable elements with a aria-hidden="true" attribute. The WAI ARIA specification does not explain how to solve it. Some browsers give precedence to the element being focusable (and expose it in the accessibility tree) while some give precedence to the aria-hidden attribute (and hide the element).

Visible

Content perceivable through sight.

Content is considered visible if making it fully transparent would result in a difference in the pixels rendered for any part of the document that is currently within the viewport or can be brought into the viewport via scrolling.

Content is defined in WCAG.

Examples for Visible

Note: The examples presented here are non-normative and not testable. They serve to illustrate some common pitfalls about the definition and to help the implementers of ACT rules understand it.

This span element is visible (by default, elements are visible).

<span>Now you can see me!</span>

This span element is not visible because of the CSS visibility property.

<span style="visibility: hidden">I'm the invisible man</span>

This span element is not visible because of the CSS display property.

<span style="display: none">I'm the invisible man</span>

This span element is not visible because it is positioned off-screen

<span style="position: absolute; top: -9999px; left: -9999px;">Incredible how you can</span>

This span element is not visible because it contains only whitespace and line breaks.

<span>
	<br />
	&nbsp;
</span>

This span element is not visible because it has the exact same color as its background.

<span style="color: #00F; background: #00F;">See right through me</span>

Useful Links


Implementations

This section is not part of the official rule. It is populated dynamically and not accounted for in the change history or the last modified date. This section will not be included in the rule when it is published on the W3C website.

ToolConsitencyCompleteReport
QualWebconsistentYesView Report
axe-corepartially-consistentYesView Report

Acknowledgments

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