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Re: table-summary argument

From: Matt Morgan-May <mattmay@adobe.com>
Date: Tue, 3 Feb 2009 15:28:14 -0800
To: HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <C5AE130E.14131%mattmay@adobe.com>

Philip Taylor wrote:
> 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."

The Techniques for WCAG 2 specify that <caption> and @summary should not
duplicate one another.


It's also not intended to be visible, because it's intended as metadata to
describe the structure of the table. Requiring it to be visible makes as
much sense as making @alt visible.

> It also refers to data that's not from Google, e.g. giving evidence that
> the summary attribute often is an empty string

...which WCAG 2 specified as a technique for identifying layout tables, and
which has been an accessibility best practice for years now. This is a pass,
not a fail.

> and that it is very rarely actually helpful

...judging by the Google index, which doesn't include deep web or intranet
usage, including lots of governmental applications where @summary serves a
purpose that <caption> and <p> do not, and where legal policy dictates that
information must be present.

Sam Ruby wrote:
> I'm late to the party, but reading the following link, it does appear to
> be a misrepresentation.  In general, drawing conclusions and inferring
> motivation without doing the proper research isn't the best way to start
> an open discussion.

Are you talking about Larry's message, or the process that led us to this
point? I think what you said applies to both equally.

> Scanning both links, it seems relatively likely to me that the HTML5
> working group considered the points raised on the PFWG link; and it
> seems less likely to me that the PFWG considered the points raised in
> the HTML5 link, but that could be my ignorance.

I concur. I recommend asking the chair of PF to fill you in. It's been an
ongoing topic of discussion in PF. Not so much whether it's necessary, but
when and how to resurface it, since previous attempts have been (IMJO)
brushed aside.

> Larry: it might be useful to write up a short statement (ideally a
> balanced one that covers both positions, if that's humanly possible) to
> be included in the draft for now?

I'll volunteer to write this.

Received on Tuesday, 3 February 2009 23:28:58 UTC

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