Making Dashboards Accessible in Tableau

by Toby Horne

Today, I was tasked with redesigning a dashboard to accommodate users with dyscalculia. Dyscalculia refers to an individual who has difficulty in processing and understanding numbers. Dyscalculia is more common than you would think. Most people with dyscalculia are undiagnosed and according to, 'about 1 in 20 people in the UK have dyscalculia'. To put this in perspective, it is estimated that 1 in 10 people in the UK are dyslexic.

Here are some of the ways we can accommodate dyscalculia in Tableau:

1. Use Clear and Simple Charts:

  • Choose straightforward charts and graphs that are easy to interpret, such as bar charts, line charts, and scatter plots.
  • Avoid overly complex visualizations like pie charts or radial graphs, which can be challenging for individuals with dyscalculia.
  • Space out charts effectively, giving the numbers room to breathe on the page.

2. Provide Context:

  • Include clear titles and subtitles to describe the purpose of your dashboard and the data being presented.
  • Use annotations or tooltips to explain data points and trends, making it easier for users to understand the information. Captions in Tableau are also a great way of achieving this.  

3. Careful Use of Numbers:

  • Minimize the use of numerical data and focus on visual cues, such as colour and size to inform the user.
  • If numbers are necessary, use a simple font and format, making sure they are large and legible. Thousand's and million's abbreviations (Ms and Ks) are a great way to reduce the cognitive load for an individual.

4. Use Color Effectively:

  • Use colour strategically to highlight important data points or categories, but avoid relying solely on colour for conveying information.

Overall, I would say the biggest challenge of making dashboards accessible is finding a solution that accommodates all users. In the case of dyscalculia, it is important to make sure that we are tweaking the display of numbers and visualisation, without removing them completely, hence, altering the story of our data.  This, combined with managing the needs of the majority of users is a difficult balancing act to master.