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[Bug 14107] Non-conformance of the summary attribute for the table element makes WCAG 1.0 compliance impossible

From: <bugzilla@jessica.w3.org>
Date: Sun, 29 Jan 2012 19:35:07 +0000
To: public-html-a11y@w3.org
Message-Id: <E1RraWp-000140-RJ@jessica.w3.org>

steve faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com> changed:

           What    |Removed                     |Added
                 CC|                            |faulkner.steve@gmail.com

--- Comment #17 from steve faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com> 2012-01-29 19:35:05 UTC ---
(In reply to comment #0)
> The summary attribute for the table element has become non-conforming, but
> should be obsolete but conforming, because:
> Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0 Guideline 5.5 ("Provide summaries for
> tables") requires that summaries are provided for tables, and for "HTML", that
> means the summary attribute.
> Furthermore, WCAG 1.0 Guideline 11.1 ("Use W3C technologies when they are
> available and appropriate for a task and use the latest versions when
> supported") requires that the latest versions of W3C technologies, including
> HTML, be used. So, once HTML5 is standardized, it will have to be used. (There
> might be some wiggle room on the "appropriate for a task" and "when supported"
> qualifiers; but I imagine that you wouldn't want people to recommend against
> HTML5 usage specifically due to this reason).
> The summary attribute can't just be used in violation of the specification,
> because that would violate WCAG 1.0 Guideline 3.2 ("Create documents that
> validate to published formal grammars"). Custom Doctypes and similar solutions
> are likewise stymied.
> While people should meet WCAG 2.0 rather than WCAG 1.0, there is currently
> significant legislative requirement around the world to use WCAG 1.0, which has
> not been updated.
> Is there any special reason to retire the attribute? Most major browsers ignore
> it right now; is there a compatibility issue? It seems safer to keep it.

I consider that your argument is based on a mis-reading of the WCAG 1.0

1. WCAG 1.0 states

"5.5 Provide summaries for tables. [Priority 3]
For example, in HTML, use the "summary" attribute of the TABLE element.

The checkpoint does not normatively require the use of the summary attribute it
normatively requires the provision of summary information for data tables. The
example of the summary attribute is from the techniques document which is non

The abstract of the techniques document states:

" This document is intended to help authors of Web content who wish to claim
conformance to "Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0" ([WCAG10]). While the
techniques in this document should help people author HTML that conforms to
"Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0", these techniques are neither
guarantees of conformance nor the only way an author might produce conforming

the most pertinent part of the above quote is;

"nor the only way an author might produce conforming content."

So authors can still provide summaries for tables that do not involve the use
of the summary attribute, but can be considered as conforming to WCAG 1.0.

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Received on Sunday, 29 January 2012 19:35:09 UTC

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