Use a screen reader to create tables in Access desktop databases

Read out loud symbol with the label Screen reader content. This topic is about using a screen reader with Office

This article is for people with visual impairments who use a screen reader program with the Office products and is part of the Office Accessibility content set. For more general help, see Office Support home.

Use Access with your keyboard and a screen reader to add tables to an Access desktop database. We have tested it with Narrator, JAWS, and NVDA, but it might work with other screen readers as long as they follow common accessibility standards and techniques. You'll also learn how to save, rename, and delete tables.


  • New Office 365 features are released gradually to Office 365 subscribers, so your app might not have these features yet. To learn how you can get new features faster, join the Office Insider program.

  • To learn more about screen readers, go to How screen readers work with Microsoft Office.

  • When using Narrator, your keyboard will default to the Standard layout. To change this in the Narrator settings, press the Windows logo key+Ctrl+N. Press the Tab key until you hear: "Select keyboard layout, Standard." To change the layout to Legacy, press the Down arrow key once. You hear: "Legacy, selected." The new Narrator commands will not be available in the Legacy keyboard layout if keystrokes for legacy commands conflict with those used in new Narrator features.

In this topic

Tables in Access

Tables are essential objects in a database because they hold all the information or data. For example, a database for a business can have a Contacts table that stores the names of suppliers, email addresses, and phone numbers. Before you create tables, consider your requirements and determine all the tables that you might need. For help planning and designing a database, refer to Database design basics.

A relational database, like Access, usually has several logically connected tables. In a well-designed database, each table stores data about a particular subject, such as employees or products. A table has records (rows), fields (columns), and field values (cells) for each record.

  • A record (row) contains specific data, like information about a particular employee or a product.

  • A field (column) contains data about one aspect of the table subject, such as a first name, email address, or price.

  • A field value (cell) for a record contains different types of data, such as text, numbers, dates, and hyperlinks.

Although each table stores data about a specific subject, the tables in a relational database such as Access, store data about related subjects. For example, a database might contain:

  • A Customers table that lists your company’s customers and their addresses

  • A Products table that lists the products that you sell, including prices and pictures for each item

  • An Orders table that tracks customer orders

To connect the data stored in different tables, you create relationships. A relationship is a logical connection between two tables that have a common field. For information on creating relationships between tables in an Access desktop database, refer to Create, edit or delete a relationship.

Add a table

  1. Open a new or existing database.

    Tip: Your screen reader may not start reading until a table is open. If you open an existing database with no open tables, press Enter. The top table in the Navigation pane opens.

  2. Press Alt+C, T, N. A new table is added, and you hear: “Table X.” The focus in the first cell of the second field. (The default name of the first field is ID.)

  3. Enter data in the table or paste data in the table from another source, like an Excel workbook. When you enter a field value in the new field and move to the next field value, Access automatically names the field FieldX.

  4. To rename a field (column) header in the table:

    1. To select the field, place the focus in the field and press Ctrl+Spacebar.

    2. To open a shortcut menu, press Shift+F10.

    3. Press N. The focus moves to the field header, and you hear “Leaving menus, Datasheet, Row X,” the name of the field, and “Type and text.” Enter a new name for the field.

    Tip: Meaningful names, such as Product name or Price, help you know what each field contains without seeing its contents.

  5. To add a field (column) to the table:

    1. To move to the first record of the table, press Ctrl+Home.

    2. To move to the last record of the last field in the table, press Ctrl+End.

    3. To move to a new field, press the Right Arrow key.

    4. To move to the first record of the new field, press Ctrl+Up Arrow.

    5. Enter your data. When you move to another cell, the new field is added with the default name Field X.

Save a table

After you create a new table or modify an existing table, you should save it.

  1. To save a table, press Ctrl+S or Alt+F.

    When you save a table the first time, the Save as dialog box opens and you hear “Save as, Table Name colon, Edit, Type, and Text” and the name of the table.


    • If you try to close a table before saving it, a dialog box automatically appears and you hear “Do you want to save changes to the design of table Table X?” The focus is on the Yes button. To save the table, press Enter.

    • When you save changes to an existing table, the table is assigned the name your previously gave it. To rename the table when you save it, press F12. The Save as dialog box opens, and you can enter a new name.

  2. In the text box, type a name for the table. When you save a table for the first time, give it a name that describes the data that it contains. For example, you might name a table Customers, Parts Inventory, or Products. Access gives you lots of flexibility when it comes to naming your tables in web apps, but there are some restrictions:

    • A table name can be up to 64 characters long.

    • It can include any combination of letters, numbers, spaces, and special characters except a period (.), exclamation point (!), square brackets ([]), leading space, leading equal sign (=), or nonprintable character such as a carriage return.

    • The name cannot contain any of the following characters: ` / \ : ; * ? " ' < > | # <TAB> { } % ~ &.

    Tip: Decide on a naming convention for the objects in your database, and use it consistently.

  3. Press Enter.

Rename a table

Note: You cannot rename a table when it is open. To close an active table, press F6 or Ctrl+W. The focus moves to the Navigation pane.

  1. In the Navigation pane, to select the table you want to rename, press the Tab key until you hear "Tables," and then press the Down arrow key until you hear the one you want.

  2. To open the context menu for the table, press Shift+F10.

  3. On the context menu, press M twice and then press Enter. You hear: “Leaving menus, Rename text box, Edit.” In Narrator, you hear "Rename text box, editing" followed by the current name.

  4. In the text box, type the new name and press Enter.

Delete a table

  1. In Datasheet view, close all tables. The focus shifts to the Navigation pane. To select the table you want to delete, use the Down Arrow key.

  2. Press Delete. A window opens asking you to confirm the deletion, and you hear “Do you want to delete the Table X?”In Narrator, you hear "Microsoft Access dialog, Yes button." The focus is on the Yes button.

  3. To delete the table, press Enter.

Note: When you are in Design view, to switch to Datasheet view, press Alt, J+D, W, and then H. To switch to Design view when you are in Datasheet view, press Alt+H, W, and then D.

See also

Use a screen reader to start Access

Use a screen reader to create a query in Access desktop databases

Technical Support for customers with disabilities

Microsoft wants to provide the best possible experience for all our customers. If you have a disability or questions related to accessibility, please contact the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk for technical assistance. The Disability Answer Desk support team is trained in using many popular assistive technologies and can offer assistance in English, Spanish, French, and American Sign Language. Please go to the Microsoft Disability Answer Desk site to find out the contact details for your region.

If you are a government, commercial, or enterprise user, please contact the enterprise Disability Answer Desk.

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