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Re: summary attribute compromise proposal

From: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>
Date: Wed, 5 Aug 2009 08:09:55 +0000 (UTC)
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Cc: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <Pine.LNX.4.62.0908050756490.18950@hixie.dreamhostps.com>
On Tue, 4 Aug 2009, Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
>
> Here is my proposal: [...]
> 
> 2) HTML5 will not make any flat direct statements that summary="" 
> shouldn't or can't be used.

I think we need to discourage use of summary="" to improve the overall 
accessibility of the Web.

In practice, on the rare occasions that the attribute is used at all, it 
is used poorly by amateurs and experts alike. Some provide text that is so 
useless that ATs have, I am told, derived heuristics to avoid exposing 
their users to them. Others provide text that is useful to all readers, 
not just the visually impaired. The rare cases of summary="" attributes 
that walk the fine line between being hypothetically useful to AT users 
and being superfluous for anyone else are in almost all cases redundant 
with a quick scan of the table using regular table navigation aids.

Furthermore, at least some AT users in practice explicitly disable support 
for the attribute, leaving the amount of effort that authors spend on 
summary="" attributes to be completely disproportional to the actual gains 
experienced by users, such that the authors' time could be better spent 
improving accessibility in ways that result in significantly better return 
on investment.

By continuing to encourage summary="", therefore, we are doing a 
disservice to the AT user community.

I've presented more elaborate reasoning and data to support the above 
position here:

   http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2009Jul/0148.html


In every respect other than the various places in the proposal where it is 
suggested that we should not disparage summary="", I'm fine with it.

-- 
Ian Hickson               U+1047E                )\._.,--....,'``.    fL
http://ln.hixie.ch/       U+263A                /,   _.. \   _\  ;`._ ,.
Things that are impossible just take longer.   `._.-(,_..'--(,_..'`-.;.'
Received on Wednesday, 5 August 2009 08:10:32 UTC

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