All About Excel Spreadsheets

Excel spreadsheet and colorful pie chart displaying number of red, blue, green and brown M&Ms

Microsoft Excel is a spreadsheet program that is included in the Microsoft Office Suite of applications.  Spreadsheets present tables of values arranged in rows and columns that can be manipulated mathematically using both basic and complex math operations and functions. Excel is a way to organize, format and calculate data with formulas. Microsoft Excel was released in 1982 and was called Multiplan. Microsoft Excel is available for Windows, MacOS, Android and iOS.

Students are using Excel in the classroom - start teaching basic Excel skills to ALL your elementary school students!

Learn Excel

Below is an Excel video tutorial.


Teach Excel

Excel Basics for Beginners is a great resource with Excel terms and definitions.

Here is a lesson Plan to create an M&M Pie Chart using Excel.

Excel for Students using Screen Readers

Microsoft has step-by-step instructions on how to create an accessible Excel spreadsheet for students who are visually impaired or blind.

RNIB provides strategies for students who are creating Excel spreadsheets using a screen reader. This document includes accessibility pointers, keyboard shortcuts, large print size, and more.  See attached RNIB Creating Accessible Excel Spreadsheets.

For students who are creating calculations, NCBI shares information about commands and how to carry out calculations. Technology Tutorial: An Introduction to Microsoft Excel.

Kaleigh, a tech savvy student who is visually impaired, shares how she uses Excel with JAWS to create bar and pie charts.


In Kaleigh's video above, we see how students who use a screen reader can use Excel to create charts and graphs. Historically, charts and graphs have not been accessible - students who use a screen reader could not interact with the chart to independently glean information. However, the recently released SAS Graphics Accelerator enables students who are visually impaired to access the data in charts and graphs. This exciting new software has a lot of potential for K-12 students as students using screen readers can access information gleaned from visual charts and graphs. View the introductory video about SAS Graphics Accelerator below.

Collage of Excel spreadsheets


Posted by Diane BraunerSep 13, 2017

I haven't had a chance to look at this yet, but has anyone had a problem I ran into a couple of years ago? I had a low vision student who wanted to go into accounting and finance in college. She picked up tons of Excel keyboard commands and could make some incredible reports and such. Then she took her first class. They used Excel in Google docs. Many of the commands didn't work... Ugh. -S

Posted by Diane BraunerSep 13, 2017

Google has it's own spreadsheet application called Google Sheets. Google Sheets and Microsoft Excel are both spreadsheet applications but they are different; just like Google Docs and Microsoft Word are both "word" document applications. Here is a link to Google Sheets screenreader commands.

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