W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > June 2007

danger of null value for summary attribute [Re: fear of "invisible metadata"]

From: Gregory J. Rosmaita <oedipus@hicom.net>
Date: Sun, 24 Jun 2007 15:14:32 -0400
To: joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie, Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
Message-Id: <20070624191019.M55418@hicom.net>

Joshue wrote, quote:
I didn't know that the summary attribute also
accepted a null value. I guess that by giving a table a null value the
UA (screen reader) will still be able to 'see' the table. Giving
graphics null alt="" values effectively removes them from the screen
reader output. Could this be useful with tables that may or may not be
of use to a screen reader user if use of the null summary value did the
same?
unquote

a null value for summary defeats the entire purpose of alerting the 
user who cannot process the table at all or in toto, how the table 
is laid out, what it describes, etc.

rather than a null value for summary, layout tables should CLEARLY 
be marked summary="Layout Table Containing X", so that the user 
knows he or she can skip that table and move on to inspect the 
next table, courtesy of the summary attribute... after all, aren't 
MOST tables found in the wild are quote layout tables unquote?  
even though they are misusing the table element, they are using 
a table to (literally) lay out content in a particular manner, 
alignment, ect.

speaking as a screen reader user, a null summary would be as bad as 
if summary didn't exist...

gregory.

----------------------------------------------------------------
CONSERVATIVE, n.  A statesman who is enamored of existing evils,
as distinguished from the Liberal, who wishes to replace them 
with others.         -- Ambrose Bierce, _The Devil's Dictionary_
----------------------------------------------------------------
             Gregory J. Rosmaita, oedipus@hicom.net
  Camera Obscura: http://www.hicom.net/~oedipus/index.html
----------------------------------------------------------------

---------- Original Message -----------
From: Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>
To: Laura Carlson <laura.lee.carlson@gmail.com>
Cc: public-html@w3.org
Sent: Mon, 18 Jun 2007 20:03:33 +0100
Subject: Re: fear of "invisible metadata"

> Laura Carlson wrote:
> > A summary would "break" this transparency by calling attention
> > to the table. A null summary (summary="") on layout tables is
> > acceptable.
> 
> Thanks for that Laura. I didn't know that the summary attribute also
> accepted a null value. I guess that by giving a table a null 
> value the UA (screen reader) will still be able to 'see' the 
> table. Giving graphics null alt="" values effectively removes 
> them from the screen reader output. Could this be useful with 
> tables that may or may not be of use to a screen reader user if 
> use of the null summary value did the same?
> 
> Or does it already? Have I stumbled across some hitherto unknown 
> (to me anyway) feature of HTML? Or would it be a good idea for 
> HTML 5?
> 
> Hmm :-)
> 
> Josh
------- End of Original Message -------
Received on Sunday, 24 June 2007 19:14:47 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Monday, 29 September 2014 09:38:45 UTC