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Re: Use and abuse of @summary

From: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2009 07:49:24 +0100
Message-ID: <499E5274.3040301@malform.no>
To: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
CC: Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, HTML WG <public-html@w3.org>, Janina Sajka <janina@rednote.net>, W3C WAI Protocols & Formats <w3c-wai-pf@w3.org>, wai-liaison@w3.org
Steven Faulkner 2009-02-19 14.28:
> The question at hand is whether the use of the summary "in the wild" helps
> or hinders screen reader users.

And in this context, how UAs ignore useless @summary-ies. However, 
I am not certain that Jaws has any spesific @summary heuristics. 
It seems more like it only has layout table heuristics.

Example: The interesting Vegetarian Journal has a page with 14 
structurally very similar tables, all with @summary. [2]. But when 
I ask Jaws to jump to the first table, it jumps past the two, 
which it - more clever than I - deems as layout tables.

So when Jaw starts reading the first data table, it begins with 
the @summary, which reads "Nutritional Content". Now, imagine that 
the user was discussing the journal with a sighted person. He 
would then perhaps refer the sighted to the table called 
"Nutritional Content". Hardly useful, as the sighted cannot see 
any table labelled like that. (The tables do not have any visible 
caption.) In fact, here - in Jaws, but only in Jaws - the @summary 
works as a caption. (This is not an argument against @summary, but 
against the Jaws implementation, which probably has caused wrong 
authoring and wrong expectations.)

Here, again, it would have been better to focus on adding a media 
independent label before adding a media dependent one. But the 
buggy Jaws prevent such a focus - see my screen reader test [3].

> At this point I have a very limited objective,  that is I am working to get
> @summary into HTML5, not because i do not consider that improvements can be
> made as you have been investigating, but think that @summary inclusion has
> the most chance of getting in the HTMl5 spec of the options for data table
> descriptions.

Perhaps Ian, Sam or Chris could shed some light on this? Are we 
doomed to discuss @summary only? Or can we discuss how tables 
could be improved e.g. with new table meta data elements? As long 
as <caption> is strictly intended as a <table> title, there is 
need for another place to place other metadata that is directly 
linked to the table. Well, one method is perhaps to place <table>s 
in <figure>.

[1] http://www.paciellogroup.com/blog/misc/summary.html
[2] http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj2006issue1/vj2006issue1weight.htm
[3] http://www.w3.org/mid/499E4F44.7050800@malform.no
leif halvard silli
Received on Friday, 20 February 2009 06:50:24 UTC

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