W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > August 2009

Re: summary attribute compromise proposal

From: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Date: Tue, 04 Aug 2009 14:18:20 -0700
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-id: <0C17AE4D-9C24-4FCA-9C82-ECF7616EE97D@apple.com>
To: Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>

On Aug 4, 2009, at 2:09 PM, Julian Reschke wrote:

> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>> ...
>>> Unless the validator develops sufficient intelligence so that it  
>>> can tell a good summary value from a bad one, it should stay silent.
>> I think silence is not an approach that will get buy-in from people  
>> who think summary is problematic.
>>> Any element can be mis-used and in fact is misused in practice, so  
>>> why make an exception in this case?
>> This case may be worth an exception, because we have some evidence  
>> that this particular attribute is often used wrong, and HTML5  
>> offers new alternatives. Thus, highly visible guidance to authors  
>> could help. Is
>
> I think there's disagreement about whether these alternative really  
> can replace @summary.

That's why my proposal amounts to saying: "Consider these alternative  
choices, based on the following considerations." It doesn't eliminate  
@summary as an acceptable choice.

> Furthermore, where's the AT support for them?

I believe existing AT will read the caption, text next to the table,  
or text associated via aria-describedby.

> In my opinion, warnings make only sense if there's a way for the  
> author to silence them. For instance, in Java, for deprecated  
> methods the JavaDoc usually specifies an alternative. And for many  
> other warnings, there are pragmas to point out "I mean it".

Do you think an out-of-band way to silence the warnings (such as a  
validator option to turn warnings on and off) would be sufficient to  
meet this need? (Not necessarily proposing this - I'm just trying to  
understand the scope of your disagreement.)

>> your concern about the label as a "warning", or about having  
>> advisory guidance in the validator at all?
>> ...
>
> Advisory guidance is fine unless it's misleading.


I guess it's hard to evaluate what is misleading without getting more  
specific. Here's some text I wrote in my proposal to describe what I  
think would be good guidance. I didn't draft it specifically to be a  
warning, and I'm not up for drafting exact warning text, but maybe  
it's enough for you to evaluate whether it might be misleading.

     (a) Is a particular piece of information useful to the blind or  
visually impaired? -- If not, it shouldn't be included in summary.  
Authors must not put useless text in summary to give a pro forma  
appearance of accessibility.
     (b) Is a particular piece of information useful in a visual  
rendering as well? For example, is it useful to people of normal  
ability, or to other handicap groups, such as the cognitively  
disabled? -- If so, the information should be included in a way that  
is available to everyone, such as <caption>. If the information would  
be potentially useful, but possibly distracting, it can be made  
available to everyone but hidden by default, for example using  
<details>. For example, describing the conclusions of the data in a  
table is useful to everyone. Explaining how to read the table, if not  
obvious from the headers alone, is useful to everyone. Describing the  
structure of the table, if it is easy to grasp visually, may not be  
useful to everyone.

Regards,
Maciej
Received on Tuesday, 4 August 2009 21:19:01 UTC

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