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Re: Use and abuse of @summary

From: Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 23 Feb 2009 13:38:56 +0000
Message-ID: <55687cf80902230538v2fbfb013y5084f71f2cecf324@mail.gmail.com>
To: James Graham <jgraham@opera.com>
Cc: Lachlan Hunt <lachlan.hunt@lachy.id.au>, 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 James,
>I don't understand the purpose of doing that?

I am not going to respond to this here (we can go into this elsewhere if you
wish, please email me directly), as it is not the question at hand, just as
lachlans attempt to by implication undermine the data I provided by pointing
out how I had used the summary incorrectly was not (in my view) useful or
relevant to the data itself.

>It's not really fine because WCAG techniques are supposed to be helpful. If
this technique is suggesting something that is widely held to be bad
practice then it >should be updated to describe what good practice actually
is.

I don't see how you get to the technique advocating "bad practice" from
either mine or patrick's remark.
We both disagree with aspects of the techniques, but neither patrick or
myself have claimed to be experts on the subject (as far as I know). I
happen to disagree with the use of summary="" on layout tables as i think it
unecessary, but would not go so far to say that it is a problem if it
is used and the technique itself does not mandate it.

"However, if a layout table is used, then the summary attribute is not used
or is null. "[1]

I would ideally prefer to see tables not used for layout.

Patrick it appears diagress with:
"The summary may also be helpful for simple data tables that contain many
columns or rows of data." [1]

Again the technique does not mandate their use, it suggests they may be
useful and could be used in this circumstance. And as such patrick can
choose not to use them on simple data tables.

>It is also a problem for the HTML-WG because a large number of the
discussions on @summary have been predicated on it being used as described
in this >technique.

"The objective of this technique is to provide a brief overview of how data
has been organized into a table or a brief explanation of how to navigate
the table." [1]

I don't think anyone from the pro side would disagree with the main point of
the technique.

>It is not apparent that the mandatory requirements alone are sufficient
because, for example it is unclear that @summary will be needed to satisfy
1.3.1 at all since information about the structure of the data is available
through the table cell->headers relationships hence satisfying the
"relationships [...] can be programmatically determined" part of the clause.
In some cases it is not needed in others it may be useful to provide it,
nowhere in WCAG 2.0 does it say every data table must have a summary
attribute. (unlike WCAG 1.0)

If you look at the examples from the H:73 technique it is pretty clear on
the sort of information that should be provided if the summary is used.
Though I do think that the technique would benefit from more examples .

I will finish with the the same paragragh that i started this thread with,
hopefully the working group will reach out to those who are actual users and
also are acknowledged experts in accessibility, as there input is invaluable
in this debate.

In conclusion: @summary is well supported by AT , its misuse at whatever
level (though I would say claims are overstated) has little effect upon
users.
Therefore I suggest that it would be useful to talk to the screen reader
users (its intended audience) that are on the W3C HTML working group and the
W3C WAI groups and heed their advice on the utility of the @summary.

 [1] http://www.w3.org/TR/2008/WD-WCAG20-TECHS-20080430/H73.html

2009/2/23 James Graham <jgraham@opera.com>

> Steven Faulkner wrote:
>
>> Hi lachlan, yes I used the summary in this way on prupose, because i
>> figured
>> that people would look at it and comment on its incorrect use.
>>
>
> I don't understand the purpose of doing that?
>
> Patrick H. Lauke wrote:
>
>> Worth noting that WCAG 2 techniques are advisory, rather than
>> mandatory. Personally, I disagree with this technique's particular
>> suggested use of summary for simple tables...and, as it's only
>> advisory, that's fine...as long as i and my users are happy that the
>> actual mandatory SC 1.3.1 is satisfied.
>>
>
> It's not really fine because WCAG techniques are supposed to be helpful. If
> this technique is suggesting something that is widely held to be bad
> practice then it should be updated to describe what good practice actually
> is.
>
> It is also a problem for the HTML-WG because a large number of the
> discussions on @summary have been predicated on it being used as described
> in this technique. If the actual content that users want, and
> accessibility-aware authors are providing, is substantially different from
> that indicated in WCAG that would be extremely useful to know so that we can
> base the discussion on reality rather than spec-fiction.
>
> For example it is unclear that @summary will be needed to satisfy 1.3.1 at
> all since information about the structure of the data is available through
> the table cell-headers relationships hence satisfying the "relationships
> [...] can be programmatically determined" part of the clause.
>



-- 
with regards

Steve Faulkner
Technical Director - TPG Europe
Director - Web Accessibility Tools Consortium

www.paciellogroup.com | www.wat-c.org
Web Accessibility Toolbar -
http://www.paciellogroup.com/resources/wat-ie-about.html
Received on Monday, 23 February 2009 13:39:39 UTC

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