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Re: summary attribute compromise proposal

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Thu, 06 Aug 2009 14:13:53 +0200
Message-id: <4A7AC901.2010309@malform.no>
To: Julian Reschke <julian.reschke@gmx.de>
Cc: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Julian Reschke On 09-08-06 12.09:

> Maciej Stachowiak wrote:

First of all, well done to both Maciej, John, Sam, Ian and many 

>> Thanks. I read over your changes, and as far as I'm concerned, the new 
>> spec text is in line with my compromise proposal.

I suspect "in line" doesn't mean "100%"? See below.

>> <http://www.whatwg.org/specs/web-apps/current-work/#attr-table-summary> 


> Is it good enough? I don't think so.
> For instance, the spec still states:
> "The summary  attribute on table elements was suggested in earlier 
> versions of the language as a technique for providing explanatory text 
> for complex tables for users of screen readers. One of the techniques 
> described  above should be used instead."
> ...which I think is the wrong thing to do if one believes that @summary 
> *does* have a special purpose for screen readers, which none of the 
> alternatives have.

I'll note that Maciej, in his (discussions of his) proposal, 
answered to the need for *hidden* table summaries/descriptions. He 
even presented a CSS method for hiding such descriptions from 
visual media:


However, the draft fails to discuss the "hidden summary" option. 
Instead, it is as if the draft lumps the need for hidden summaries 
together with the use of the summary="" attribute.

(By which I refer to the fact that it recommends authors to 
consider having *visual* summaries instead of using summary="" - 
as if all visually hidden summaries has to be inserted via 
summary="" ... )

The draft should separate the issues: First it should advice pro 
et contra table description/summaries that are visually hidden.

Thereafter it should discuss how such summaries should be hidden: 
with @summary, with CSS or with both methods (simultaneously).

About that last option - simultaneously: Given, as it is, that 
only *some* UAs usefully support @summary, and given that the 
screenreader UAs do not currently respond to media queries, I 
think we have a usecase where, for compatibility, one have reason 
to use both simultaneously, for compatibility reasons:

	<table summary="Lorem Ipsum.">
	<caption>Table title.
		<span media="speech, screenreader">
		Lorem Ipsum

That said - a fourth option:

	Roy took up the need to add out of band descriptions - for 
instance when transferring a table from paper to Web - and it 
might be that @summary is good for that. However, out of band 
messages could also be useful for sighted users. And thus, this 
might in reality be a usecase for adding a pure annotation element 
to HTML 5.

> Furthermore, the spec still lists @summary under "obsolete but conforming"

Indeed. I support John's viewpoints here. Although we need to have 
the full picture to really tell.
leif halvard silli
Received on Thursday, 6 August 2009 12:14:31 UTC

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