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: Thu, 26 Feb 2009 11:42:15 +0000
Message-ID: <49A68017.1090007@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>
Hi Maciej,

>I hope we can all agree that they are at
> least plausible ideas; even if they ultimately don't work, we should
> assume anyone advocating them is doing so in good faith. 

Absolutely.
[...]
>>> C) Additional information not found in the table at all, but relating to
>>> its contents.
>>
>> @summary could do this.
> 
> I don't think anyone disputes that the summary attribute could convey
> this kind of information. The disagreement is over whether it is better
> to use summary="", or a mechanism that would also make the information
> available to sighted users. 

I think that is partly a User Agent issue and partly an issue around
what @summary was originally designed for which was as a mechanism for
non-sighted uses. If the mechanism is there in the first place then of
course it is technically possible to display it.

>Because, for example, you could also say
> that a <p> element above the table "already does this" but that's not
> very helpful to making the call on which way is better. 

Also note that if content is being described by an attribute that is
/not/ explicitly associated with an element then the screen reader user
may easily miss it. The term screen reader gives a poor mental model to
users not familiar with the technology as to how they operate. The are
quite granular navigation devices and can easily skip over large amounts
of content, missing things like the description in a nearby <p> element,
unless there is a programmatic association that the AT can parse and
output to the user in a useful way. @summary does this already as the
association is explicit, nested within the parent element.

> Category C
> especially seems to me like something it would be wrong to put in
> summary - if the information truly can't be found anywhere else, then it
> seems to violate the ideas of equivalent content and universal access to
> hide it from sighted users.

No, I disagree. Why? Because the @summary is /providing/ equivalence
through a textual description giving an overview or useful guidance to
the user. A sighted user by looking at the content can /usually/
understand the purpose of the table (issues with cognition and
comprehension aside for the moment) and content relationships - all this
takes is a glance over the content. So @summary is providing the glance
as such that the sighted person /already/ has. So there is no way the
use of @summary is discriminating against sighted users as it is
providing equivalence for those who cannot see.
Received on Thursday, 26 February 2009 11:43:21 UTC

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