W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-html@w3.org > February 2009

RE: summary="" in HTML5

From: Sailesh Panchang <sailesh.panchang@deque.com>
Date: Tue, 24 Feb 2009 10:17:08 -0500
Message-ID: <49a40e7c.1f588c0a.2db1.fffff10c@mx.google.com>
To: "'Ian Hickson'" <ian@hixie.ch>, "'Gregory J. Rosmaita'" <oedipus@hicom.net>, "'Leif Halvard Silli'" <lhs@malform.no>, "'Maciej Stachowiak'" <mjs@apple.com>, "'James Graham'" <jgraham@opera.com>, "'Joshue O Connor'" <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>, "'Steve Axthelm'" <steveax@pobox.com>, "'Steven Faulkner'" <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, "'Simon Pieters'" <simonp@opera.com>
Cc: "'HTMLWG'" <public-html@w3.org>, <wai-xtech@w3.org>, <wai-liaison@w3.org>, <janina@rednote.net>, "'Dan Connolly'" <connolly@w3.org>, "'Matt Morgan-May'" <mattmay@adobe.com>, "'Julian Reschke'" <julian.reschke@gmx.de>, "'W3C WAI Protocols & Formats'" <w3c-wai-pf@w3.org>
At the outset one needs to realize that caption and summary are not
interchangeable. The elements serve different purposes.
Just as every book has a title, every data table should have a title and in
HTML the element used to tag the title is the caption. And the caption is
visible to all and accessible too. An incorrect / cryptic / too long title
is a hindrance for everyone- it is not a fault of the caption tag but of the
content writer / coder. 
If a developer / content writer chooses not to assign a title for a table,
it is the author's prerogative. 
There are hundreds of tables out there in which coders use the first row
with a single cell to contain the title for the table. The rest of the table
could be a simple table with one row for column headers and the first column
for row headers. But the presence of a "caption" in the first row breaks
table navigation for screen readers. 
So coders should go back to the text book and figure out how to write HTML
first. It is just like using blockquote or a single LI element to indent
text where there is no quotation or listable content.
I do not understand how people look at cases where tags have been used
incorrectly or misused and argue that the tag should go. It is like saying
guns are misused and criminals kill people with guns so one should stop
producing guns and ban them completely.  
Next email about the summary.
Thanks,

Sailesh Panchang
Accessibility Services Manager (Web and Software)
Deque Systems Inc. (www.deque.com)
11130 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite #140,
Reston VA 20191
Phone: 703-225-0380 (ext 105)
E-mail: sailesh.panchang@deque.com
Received on Tuesday, 24 February 2009 15:18:35 UTC

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