I am trying to figure out how to make a particular table accessible. On the y-axis are the names of professors. On the x-axis are the names of research interest areas. The body of the table is used to show which professors work in each area. Each professor can work in multiple areas. So, going along the row for a professor, there is a bullet in the column for each research area that they work in; the other cells are empty. As an added wrinkle, the column headers are numbers which refer to labels elsewhere on the page; this last problem can easily be fixed by putting the numbers in abbr elements with the full name as the @title.
Here is the current version of the table.
I was thinking of putting the bullets also in abbr elements with the name of the research area as the @title. I think that would mean that a screen reader user would hear the the person's name followed by their areas.
However, one might use the table to find out who all works in a given area. In other words, they would be reading down a column and across for the name whenever they see a bullet. How would that work on a screen reader? Is there anything I can do to make it work better?