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Re: Nothing is really hidden

From: Jonas Sicking <jonas@sicking.cc>
Date: Wed, 1 Jul 2009 12:14:48 -0700
Message-ID: <63df84f0907011214n2277aa1eg256d1607b5b05c0d@mail.gmail.com>
To: Shelley Powers <shelley.just@gmail.com>
Cc: HTMLWG WG <public-html@w3.org>
On Wed, Jul 1, 2009 at 8:15 AM, Shelley Powers<shelley.just@gmail.com> wrote:
> One thing I think we need to be careful about when discussing
> accessibility markup, as well as semantic metadata, is that nothing is
> really hidden.
>
> I've noticed others use the adjective, and I also recently used this
> term when referring to @summary. However, in all of the contexts in
> which we are using the term, we are using it incorrectly.
>
> Everything in a web page is visible to someone at some time, unless
> deliberately obfuscated and/or encrypted. For instance, @summary may
> not be visible to those who are not using AT, but it is visible to
> those who are.

I *think* that it's meant in the sense that these features are hidden
to the person authoring the page. And to the people "QA-ing" the page.
So for example the author of the page is not using AT tools, it
doesn't help him/her, in the process of authoring the page, that AT
tools exposes @summary.

Similarly, if the person testing the page before it us published
doesn't use AT tools, he or she will not see any wrong values in the
@summary attribute.

> And it's visible to anyone looking into page source, or
> to the author, who adds it to the page, or via any number of other
> tools and technologies.

Indeed, if the author creates the page using a simple text editor then
@summary is quite visible. This is not the case if the author is using
a tool like adobe dreamweaver.

I think that it's very interesting to look at the differences between
<img alt> and <table summary>. There are two important differences
between them. First of all alt was a required attribute in HTML 4, so
people validating their pages got an error if no @alt was included.

Second, and I believe just as importantly, for a very long time (maybe
still?) IE used to display the @alt attribute as a tooltip (if no
@title attribute was present). That meant that the @alt attribute was
somewhat visible to everyone. Even people without AT-tools. This lead
to outdated or flat out wrong @alt values would be more likely to be
detected pretty quickly and fixed.

However, if there is a need, as I think has been claimed (correct me
if I'm wrong), for a summary that is dedicated specifically to
non-sighted people, and so showing it in any form to sighted people
defeats its purpose, then things are different.

/ Jonas
Received on Wednesday, 1 July 2009 19:15:54 GMT

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