Latest updates on accessibility in Tableau

It’s been a little while since I last wrote about accessibility in Tableau and decided that it’s time for an update as we’ve had some notable developments over the last few months. These new developments are in two areas of the product: dashboard accessibility and the accessibility of the Tableau Server and Tableau Online user interface.

Before going further, I want to make sure everyone knows about the Accessibility FAQ on the Tableau Community Forums. The Accessibility FAQ is the best place to get information and guidance on accessibility in Tableau. There you can find the latest accessibility conformance reports (or VPATs), links to our published documentation on the subject, helpful tips, videos of presentations and demos, and links to other resources.

With that out of the way, let’s look at what’s new!

Dashboard accessibility with Extensions

Our primary focus for accessibility has been to enable Tableau authors to create dashboards that are accessible to people with disabilities. Over time, we’ve been expanding the functionality that authors can use in dashboards that they want to be more accessible. Perhaps my favorite new feature we’ve added to Tableau in the past couple of years is dashboard extensions. Extensions allow developers to add new capabilities to Tableau dashboards beyond those built into the product. One of the (many) cool things about dashboard extensions is that they are just HTML pages hosted in a dashboard Web Page Object. This means that if the user interface of the HTML page is accessible, that accessibility is available to the end user of the dashboard!

An extension that is of particular interest to those concerned about dashboard accessibility is the DataTables Extension for Tableau, originally created by Toan Hoang, the owner of the fantastic Tableau Magic website. The DataTables Extension gives dashboard authors a quick and easy way to display the underlying data from a visualization on a dashboard in an attractive, functional table format.

Because Toan used the DataTables plug-in for the jQuery JavaScript library as the basis of the extension, he received all of the accessibility capabilities built in to that plug-in essentially for free! We then worked with the accessibility consultancy Equal Entry to further enhance the extension for accessibility. The result is a fantastic alternative to adding an accessible table of data directly to a Tableau dashboard. End users who need this functionality may find this to be a much better experience than opening the View Data page to get the underlying data for a visualization in an accessible table, which is Tableau’s built-in mechanism.

Dashboard with DataTables Extension for Tableau

I highly recommend checking out the DataTables Extension for Tableau to make your dashboards even more accessible. It supports full keyboard interactivity as well as assistive technologies like screen readers and includes great capabilities like the ability to reorder and rename columns.

Tableau Server and Tableau Online user interface accessibility

In Tableau 2019.4, we improved accessibility in Tableau Server or Online when you view a dashboard or visualization. What this means is that if a user gets a link to a dashboard or viz hosted in Tableau Server or Tableau Online and opens that link, the user interface around the dashboard is now accessible. This UI includes the toolbar as well as the navigation elements at the top of the page, including any dialogs and panes, like the Subscribe dialog and Comments pane.

Tableau Server and Tableau Online UI - Accessible in Tableau 2019.4 and newer

This means that dashboards and worksheets no longer need to be embedded in an accessible web page to get the best accessibility experience for the end user. It also opens up additional capabilities like commenting for the first time for those users who need keyboard access or assistive technology support.

While the new accessibility in Tableau Server and Tableau Online 2019.4 is just the beginning, it represents a big step forward in bringing accessibility to more places in the Tableau platform. Stay tuned for more in the future as we continue to make sure that everyone can benefit from the value of Tableau.

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