Creating Simple Graphs Using Microsoft Excel

Presentation by Ameena Ghoston

Microsoft Excel is a powerful spread sheet application.  In addition to performing financial calculations, one can create charts and graphs of data.  Since Jaws 4.0, a blind user has the ability to create and hear  charts and graphs read by Jaws. 

In Jaws 6.0, the version that was demonstrated with Microsoft Excel 2000 during this presentation, JAWS now recognizes and speaks the types and titles of all 14 chart types and 73 subtypes, though detailed descriptions are only available for line, bar, column, cylinder, pyramid, cone, pie, doughnut and xy-scatter charts and for their subtypes, according to Freedom Scientific.

Note: Trend lines are not yet described.

Furthermore, Once a chart or graph is created, one can create a tactile graphic using an embosser from View Plus Technologies at

Example 1: let's create the graph of y = x^2!

Note: At the time of GAMA Summit, I am using Jaws 6.0 and Microsoft Excel 2000. 

  1. Open Microsoft Excel.
  2. Type the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 in A1 through A5. So, cell A1  should contain the number 1, and cell A2 should contain the number 2 and so forth. 
  3. In cells B1 through B5, enter in the numbers 1, 4, 9, 16, 25. So, cell B1 should contain the number 1, and cell B2 should contain the number 4, and so on. 

So, your document should appear as follows:  

 1  1
 2  4
 3  9
 4  16
 5  25




To continue:

  1. Press Ctrl-home to navigate to the top of document. 
  2. Go to the Insert menu with the keyboard shortcut alt-I, and arrow down to chart and press enter. 
  3. You will be shown a list of chart types.  For the purpose of this exercise, you want to arrow down to XY- (scattered) chart type. Tab to the - next - button. 
  4. Next you will here, series in? This is an edit box that contains  the source data points that will be obtained. Simply tab to the - next - button because there is no need to make changes. 
  5. You will be presented with an edit box where you need to give your graph a title. Type - The Square Function. - Tab, and label the x-axis. Type - X - . Next, tab over in order to label the y-axis. Give the label - y: - , and tab to the - next - button. 
  6. Next, you will be asked for where you want to place the graph. Simply tab to the - finish - button. 
  7. A graph will be generated, and Jaws will read a description.

This is what you will hear:

Function of X squared

Description: Scatter. Compares pairs of values. The chart contains 1 series

Category axis: x

Value axis: y

Series 1 legend: Series1 has 5 points

point 1  x=1


point 2  x=2


point 3  x=3


point 4  x=4


point 5  x=5


Example 2: Creating a Pie Chart

  1. Create a new Excel document.
  2. In  cells A1 through E1, enter A, B, C, D, F, respectively. So, cell A1 should contain the letter A, and cell B1 should contain the letter B, and so on. 
  3. In cells B1 through E2, enter a set of number so that the total equals 100.

For example: 30, 20, 10, 15, and 25.

So, your document should appear as follows:

 A  B  C  D  F
 30  20  10  15  25

To continue:

  1. Go to the chart wizard and, and select the pie chart. Press the - next - button. 
  2. You will be ask for the data range. It will select all of the cells for you so tab to the - next - button. 
  3. You will be asked for a title. Enter a title at this step. 
  4. You will be asked for the chart location. Simply, tab to the finish button.

At this point, Jaws will read a description of the pie chart.  This is what you will hear:

Percentage of students who received letter grades:

Description: Pie. Displays the contribution of each value to a total.

Legend: Series1 has 5 slices

slice 1  CATEGORY=a


contributes 30 percent

slice 2  CATEGORY=b


contributes 20 percent

slice 3  CATEGORY=c


contributes 10 percent

slice 4  CATEGORY=d


contributes 15 percent

slice 5  CATEGORY=f


contributes 25 percent

For clarification of how to take further advantage of Microsoft Excel functions, consult Microsoft Excel documentation. For further instructions on how to use a screen-reader application with Microsoft Excel, consult the screen-reader's documentation.