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Re: table-summary argument

From: Philip Taylor <pjt47@cam.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 03 Feb 2009 18:05:26 +0000
Message-ID: <49888766.2020604@cam.ac.uk>
To: Larry Masinter <masinter@adobe.com>
CC: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>

Larry Masinter wrote:
> [...]
> The proposal is to remove an accessibility-related attribute, without
> offering a replacement for its use, with no explanation except they 
> looked at the Google index and figured they could axe it. 

That seems to be misrepresenting the position that has resulted in the 
summary attribute not being in the HTML5 draft.

See http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html/2008Dec/0175.html 
for a summary of various issues.

That post offers a replacement for its use: "It seems there are at least 
two alternatives: <caption> and <p>. That is, show the helpful text to 
all users, either as a table caption or in prose before the table."

It also refers to data that's not from Google, e.g. giving evidence that 
the summary attribute often is an empty string or is reporting that it 
is a layout table, and that it is very rarely actually helpful and so 
users just ignore it; and it argues that the summary attribute is 
therefore unsuccessful at solving the problem of "users with visual 
disabilities need help to understand what tables are about".

The most significant cost of including the summary attribute is likely 
to be authors spending time learning about and writing summary values, 
instead of spending that time on other accessibility features that 
(according to the argument) have a much larger practical benefit to users.

Philip Taylor
Received on Tuesday, 3 February 2009 18:08:55 UTC

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