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Re: summarization information delivery options: attribute or element

From: Leif Halvard Silli <xn--mlform-iua@xn--mlform-iua.no>
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 2010 23:44:51 +0100
To: Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Cc: "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, public-html-a11y@w3.org
Message-ID: <20100225234451697953.f08d342f@xn--mlform-iua.no>
Laura Carlson, Thu, 25 Feb 2010 15:20:13 -0600:
> Hi Gregory,
>> 1. ascertain the position of working group members on summary as an
>>   attribute versus summary as an element;
> It might help if  the group came to consensus on a table summary's
> current and future functional requirements.
> 1. Purpose: Concise overview of the structure of the table? Long
> description? Or something else?

And what's the purpose of <caption>? HTML4 (four) speaks about @summary 
in opposition to <caption>. But in HTML5, our editor has nailed down 
that <caption> can be more than a caption in the pure sense - it can 
contain guidance about how to read the table. And hence the idea has 
been born that perhaps all guidance can be placed directly inside the 

The opposition against removing @summary is in favour of a feature that 
is focused directly at the AT users - especially the blind - citing 
unique needs for this group, and also citing experience that authors 
are unwilling to make such information visible to all.

I have been opposed to Ian's vision of <caption>. But let us accept it 
for a second. And let us *also* accept that non-sighted might need more 
than authors are willing to place inside the table caption. In fact, 
this seems to me to be the corner idea of @summary: Something that is 
targeted at AT users! 

This is meant as an answer to your question 1 about purpose, Laura. The 
purpose is simply to provide a description that is targeted at all (or 
a particular) AT users.

Since a11y task force has shown willingness to look at a element 
solution, I would like to point to a demo page I made last june: 


The idea here is simply that one could allow a second <caption> 
element. The idea is to signal that the caption is a "summary" via 
role="summary" (yes, a made up role value - not sure what the best role 
value would be). 

I do however not want to focus too much on the "summary role". Because 
I think it is better to focus on the basic idea that <caption> - in 
HTML5 - is permitted to contain as much or as little information as the 
author wants. And so one could apply the same thinking to the 
accessibility caption: Add what is needed. (Because it has turned out 
difficult to pinpoint the difference.)

> 2. Text string, restricted inline content, inline content, or block
>    level content?

A second AT <caption> goes well together with the idea that there 
should be an element directly as child of <table>

> 3. Invisible, visible, or some combination by default?

For a second AT <caption>, I think that it must be default to be 
hidden. That is the only thing that is 200% (two hundred percent) cross 
browser compatible. (As my demo page shows, making it visible is only 
100% possible.)

> 3. Visibility settings via user agent or markup?

Is this a question about whether the it should be linked to different 
media? At any rate, <caption> would be quite flexible that way.

Another advantage of the AT <caption> idea is that it can also be 
applied to <figure>: One could allow a second <figcaption>, for AT 

I am willing to write a change proposal for this, if I perceive that 
there is any interest for the AT <caption> solution.
leif halvard silli
Received on Thursday, 25 February 2010 22:45:29 UTC

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