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Do we need axis or headers='a-TD-cell' ?

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2008 21:44:17 +0200
Message-ID: <48D94711.5060409@malform.no>
To: HTMLWG <public-html@w3.org>, Chris Wilson <Chris.Wilson@microsoft.com>, W3C WAI-XTECH <wai-xtech@w3.org>, HTML4All <list@html4all.org>

In HTML 4, in the context of the HTML 4 heading algorithm, axis="" and 
headers="a-TD-cell" are equal sizes: Both let a certain cell (either the 
one with the axis="" attribute or the one which headers="" points to) be 
incorporated into the @headers incorporpoating heading algorithm of HTML 4.

Now, in HTML 5, if the purpose of @axis and headers="a-TD-cell" is 
*only* to label certain TD cells as header cells, *without* making them 
look like bold styled TH cells, then the purpose of both axis="" and 
headers="a-TD-cell" is purely stylistic. One would then be able to 
replace the following (Ex. 1):

        <td axis="The day of today" >23rd of Sepember</td>
with the following (Ex. 2):
        <th style="font-weight:normal" >23rd of Sepember</th>
and the following (Ex. 3):
        <td id=h1 >axis data</td>
        <td headers=h1 >data</td>
with the following (Ex. 4):
        <th id=h1 style="font-weight:normal" >axis data</th>
        <td headers=h1 >data</td>

But are axis="The day of today" and headers="a-TD-cell" only a stylistic 
thing? No. Not in HTML 4.

As Ex. 1 shows, "The day of today" is CDATA. But does any AT software 
inform the user about the presence of an axis attribute? And does any AT 
software allow access to the content of the axis attribute? Can anyone 
help us with the answer to that?

If the answers to both those questions are negative, then the next 
question is: Is it OK if it remains like that? If the answer to that is 
positive, then we - from an AT software point of view - do not need the 
axis attribute. We can ditch it. And we can as well ditch 
headers="a-TD-cell" as well, and use TH instead!

So the call really goes out to the accessibility community: If we are 
the only stakeholders in axis="" and headers="a-TD-cell", and if AT 
software do not support axis="", and if we are satisfied with that 
situation, then we do not need to bother the HTML working group by any 
request that it should be possible to refer to TD cell with the headers 
attribute. Instead, let authors use <TH> and style them so they do not 
look like header cells.

Finally: This is not what I want. I hope I now have demonstrated that 
HTML 5 needs both axis="" and the @headers incorporating heading 
algorithm of HTML 4. But **if I have described the situation 
correctly**, and if the rest of the accessibility community finds out 
that it is satisfied if only it can be permitted to let @headers point 
to a <TD> cell, then I am afraid that I have to back out. Such an 
approach would be futile.

In other words: If the purpose of @headers, from the rest of the 
accessibility community's point of view, is only that authors and AT 
software shall be able to insert a headers attribute on each and every 
data cell in all <table>s that we want accessible (and this is the 
consequense of what the telcon decided regarding this, as I have 
described earlier today. [1]), then I don't feel that you are serious 
enough about this. We got to take the algorithmic side of this seriously 
- if, at all, it is important to be able to point with @headers to 
another <TD> cell.

[1] http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Sep/0429.html
leif halvard silli
Received on Tuesday, 23 September 2008 19:45:02 UTC

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