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Re: Deliverable for Action 72 @headers

From: James Graham <jg307@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 26 Aug 2008 12:12:37 +0100
Message-ID: <48B3E525.4070004@cam.ac.uk>
To: Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>
CC: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

Robert J Burns wrote:
>>> While authors can follow your advice and markup the names with TH
>>> elements, this may also be confusing because the authors think of those
>>> as data (key data as Al suggested), but data nonetheless.
>> That's a fair point; I think many authors are inclined to mark things up
>> as you suggested. However it still seems much easier for an
>> accessibility-conscious author to change the <td> in the first row to
>> <th class="rowheading"> and style the class as they want rather than add
>> a headers attribute to every cell and an id attribute to every heading.
>> Moreover from the testing that Gez and others did it appears that AT
>> already deals with this case by assuming that the first column of the
>> table contains useful information even if it is not marked up as a <th>.
> However, one can easily imagine adding another column in front of the 
> 'Name' column and then the UA would not know to also include the 'Name' 
> column in the association algorithm.

Indeed, that would require explicit markup of one form or another.

>>> There may be other small issues with marking up data as headers, but
>>> another one is that the TH elements normally do not get headers
>>> associated with them too. So if the user is at the Gez cell, that user
>>> cannot query to get headers for that Gez data (i.e., "Name" in this 
>>> case).
>> That works in my suggested algorithm with the addition of scope="col" to
>> the <th>Name</th>.
> However, such an algorithm will break other uses of the scope attribute. 
> Imagine a corner header cell where it only is to be associated with the 
> header cells vertically beneath it. Causing scope='col' on the corner 
> header cell to lead to the explicit association of that corner header 
> cell with the other purely header cells beneath it would be incorrect 
> behavior. 

I can't imagine a situation in which that would occur. Do you have a (preferably 
real-world) example?

It would be better to markup the names themselves with scope
> to indicate the they are dual data/header (e.g., <tr><td scope='row' 
>  >"Rob"<td>2005-07-12<td>...). Also in this case the same styling 
> applied to TH elements could also be applied to TD elements with a scope 
> attribute.

I still don't see why marking those cells up as <th> is a significant problem.

>> As I have said before I am interested to see user testing to determine
>> which algorithms work best for tables of the sort that users encounter
>> in the real world, not the tiny subset of tables designed by
>> "accessibility experts".
> Well I'm not an "accessibility expert" so these tables are not marked up 
> by one.

Sorry I didn't mean to imply that you were. That last paragraph was more of a 
general comment not aimed at you specifically. Apologies for making that unclear.

"Eternity's a terrible thought. I mean, where's it all going to end?"
  -- Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
Received on Tuesday, 26 August 2008 11:13:12 UTC

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