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

Re: summary="" in HTML5 ISSUE-32

From: Joshue O Connor <joshue.oconnor@cfit.ie>
Date: Wed, 25 Feb 2009 22:51:57 +0000
Message-ID: <49A5CB8D.8050900@cfit.ie>
To: Maciej Stachowiak <mjs@apple.com>
Cc: David Poehlman <poehlman1@comcast.net>, Sam Ruby <rubys@intertwingly.net>, Robert J Burns <rob@robburns.com>, Ian Hickson <ian@hixie.ch>, "Gregory J. Rosmaita" <oedipus@hicom.net>, Leif Halvard Silli <lhs@malform.no>, James Graham <jgraham@opera.com>, Steve Axthelm <steveax@pobox.com>, Steven Faulkner <faulkner.steve@gmail.com>, Simon Pieters <simonp@opera.com>, 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>
Maciej Stachowiak wrote:
> Many alternatives to summary have been proposed. At least the following
> techniques have been suggested as ways to provide additional information
> about tables:
> 
> 1) Use the table caption.

Useful as a terse descriptor only.

> 2) Use a separate piece of explanatory text above or below the table.

The explanatory text is usually contained within the @summary contents.
If it is needed for sighted users for whatever reason it could be
exposed via scripting or UA behaviour could be changed in the future to
support exposing it if required.

> 3) Use the title attribute on the caption.

Not sufficient. I don't think I have ever come across this technique
being used and would not wish to start to advocate for its support when
there is an existing attribute that serves the purpose adequately.

> 4) Use a details element inside the caption.

Again, I can't see this flying at all and why do this when there is an
existing attribute that serves the purpose adequately?

> 5) Use a separate piece of explanatory text above or below the table,
> using media-specific CSS rules to hide it from visual users.

Why do this when there is an existing attribute that serves the purpose
adequately?

> 6) Variants of 4 and 5 using ARIA to associate the information with the
> table.

Yes, this method could fly but I can't see why you would want to do this
when there is an existing attribute that serves the purpose adequately?
There is an argument for promoting the use of ARIA development
techniques by applying it in instances like this but again, if it ain't
broke don't fix it right?

> There has also been discussion about whether different techniques might
> be appropriate to different kinds of additional information:
> 
> A) Descriptions of the table's data layout, making it easier to navigate
> the table.

@summary already does this.

> B) Conclusions that summarize the data in the table, so one could skip
> the table entirely if not interested in the details.

@summary already does this.

> C) Additional information not found in the table at all, but relating to
> its contents.

@summary could do this.

> D) Indications that this table is a layout table.

Use of a null @summary will render the table transparent without
bothering the user with info like @summary="This is a layout table and
if you are accessing this data you are probably using a screen reader
which means that is would probably be better if this information was
actually transparent as its is kinda useless to you". [1]

> Perhaps there are other kinds of information that might be conveyed in
> the summary attribute and that are useful for use of tables with
> assistive technologies.

Yes, this is only limited to the descriptive abilities of the author.


[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-TECHS/H73.html
Received on Wednesday, 25 February 2009 22:53:33 UTC

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