Simplifying tables by removing merged and split cells.
Removing footnotes and presenting the information in a different way.
Taking out definitions, notes, and other content at the end of tables, and putting it as normal text after the table.
Screen readers cannot follow complicated tables with lots of merged and split cells. They read out cells in the wrong order, or miss content altogether. And it's not easy for people using a screen reader to jump between cells and notes or footnotes at the end of the table.
In addition, simplifying the tables often helps all readers understand the content. And the design limitations of our website mean there are restrictions on what we can do with complicated tables anyway (for example, it's not easy to make them landscape, and they cannot be too wide in general).
Before adding a table to a guideline, think about whether this is the best format to use for the information.
If your table will have a small number of cells, with large amounts of text, it may be better to just use subheadings and paragraphs of text.
If your table will be very complicated, with layers of merged and split cells, it will need reworking. Would it work better as multiple tables? Could some column/row headings be repeated in each cell without it getting too complicated?