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Re: Caption and summary survey

From: Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>
Date: Fri, 20 Feb 2009 09:24:40 +0000
Message-ID: <499E76D8.9030404@cfit.ie>
To: Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>
Cc: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, 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
Hi Leif,

> When it tested Jaws, I  understood that my demo version did not work as Joshue descibred.

Thanks for doing those tests. There are a couple of things worth
pointing out:

1) @summary is a long descriptor of table data.

2) Caption, is a terse descriptor, rather like a heading for a table.

3) How HTML content is dealt with/announced is primarily a user agent
issue. The order in this case is /usually/ <caption>, then <summary> but
it /could/ also be determined by the order they appear in the source
code etc. It is usual to put the <caption> first and the @summary second
but the the issue of 'what gets announced when' is peripheral IMO.

4) A user agent like a screen reader performs other functions like
navigation and does not merely /read/ the page. Please note, I have many
times come across HTML elements and attributes /not/ being read out or
announced when an element is given focus (and I know they are in the
code where they should be as I put them there). This can for example be
due to issues with a graphics card not playing nice with a version of
the screen reader. Anyway, I am making the point that screen readers are
not perfect and a quick once off test may not be truly reflective, and I
mention this an an aside.

5) You may not be an experienced user of AT. I am not having a go, but
screen readers are very complex. It took me a couple of years of
observing and learning from blind friends and colleagues before I became
competent and understood many of their quirks. So with all due respect
while something may not have worked for you as you expected, it may be
other reasons than a fault in the markup as such.

The fact is that complex data tables still need and have a long
descriptor in the form of @summary. In my experience FWIW, it is well
supported out of the box by Assistive Technology. Some may need
configuration (like Window Eyes, but I thought it did work out of the
box) in order to announce it but these are primarily /user agent/
issues. The specification needs a long descriptor in the first place.

If you wish to see other useful things you can do. WIth Jaws press the
'T' key and you can jump from table to table with the <caption> and
@summaries being announced, very useful. Also you can use INSERT + F3
and bring up the Virtual HTML dialogue which allows you to display the
list of any present HTML elements in a page, go to 'Tables' in the and
any tables present will be listed in new dialogue box that you can
navigate to using your cursor keys.

Cheers

Josh
Received on Friday, 20 February 2009 09:25:36 UTC

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