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RE: Taking another round at @summary

From: John Foliot <jfoliot@stanford.edu>
Date: Tue, 5 Jan 2010 17:06:40 -0800 (PST)
To: "'Jonas Sicking'" <jonas@sicking.cc>, "'Denis Boudreau'" <dboudreau@webconforme.com>
Cc: "'HTML Accessibility Task Force'" <public-html-a11y@w3.org>, "'HTML WG Public List'" <public-html@w3.org>
Message-ID: <028201ca8e6c$80b5ca10$82215e30$@edu>
Jonas Sicking wrote:
>
> On Tue, Jan 5, 2010 at 10:24 AM, Denis Boudreau
> <dboudreau@webconforme.com> wrote:
> > Even if another mechanism was provided to replace @summary, we're
still
> > removing something that is useful to a lot of AT users today.
>
> Really? Do you have data showing that is the case? All the data I have
> seen indicates that @summary is used extremely rarely, and when it is,
> it's often used in the wrong way.

How does the rarity of @summary's usage today, or instances when the
author has done things wrong, negate @summary's usefulness?  All that your
data proves is that currently this useful attribute is not being used to
its full advantage - nothing more, nothing less.

>
> It seems to me that the WAI already has come up with a better
> solution: aria-describedby. This attribute has two advantages:
>
> 1. It encourages the description to be visual to all users, not just
> users of AT tools. While still allowing the description to be only
> visual to AT users when that is desired by the page author.
>
> 2. It can be applied to all elements, not just tables.
>
> This attribute is already supported in HTML5.

Really? Last I checked *none* of ARIA has been incorporated into HTML5...
the only attributes that <table> can take (according to the current draft
- http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/tabular-data.html#the-table-element) are the
"Global Attributes" -
http://www.w3.org/TR/html5/dom.html#global-attributes - and @summary.  Oh,
and I double checked at the current Editor's Draft as well -
http://dev.w3.org/html5/spec/Overview.html#the-table-element - and nothing
seems to have changed.

The fact that aria-describedby can provide similar (but not identical)
functionality is a good thing; however it still does not explain why we
should abandon @summary.

I am at a complete loss as to why some members of the community are
hell-bent for leather on dismissing @summary given that it is an optional
attribute to begin with.  You don't want to use it? Don't.  Leave it there
for those of us that do want to use it, or are mandated by policy (or
soon, in Denis' case, Quebec law).  It does not hurt HTML5, and in fact,
as Denis pointed out, enables Quebec-based web developers to adopt HTML5
more easily - as no matter the numerous advantages that HTML5 might
deliver to those developers, if they cannot comply with their law, they
will be barred from using HTML5 - period! *THAT* friends is a real
problem, and not the trumped up pseudo-harm that the editor keeps going on
about.



Meanwhile, Ian Hickson wrote:
>
> Nobody is suggesting making tables less accessible. The proposal in the
> spec is to make pages _more_ accessible by transitioning from using
> summary="" to using a variety of more effective techniques.

Then why do you keep insisting that @summary is "bad". Or that it needs a
*Warning* whenever used - even if it is used correctly and appropriately?
("Warning - you have done everything correctly!") You have previously
stated that if you had your personal preference you would make @summary
completely non-conforming and generate an error message
(http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/public-html-a11y/2009Dec/0098.html).
Should we conclude from your statement today that you have changed your
previous position, and that you are now inclined to make @summary a fully
un-encumbered attribute of table, but one of a multitude of options
available to the content author?



Then, Jonas Sicking returned with:
>
> Exposed only to AT users:
> <table aria-describedby="tableDesc">....</table>
> <p hidden id="tableDesc">Description here</p>

Can you explain to me, in simple English, how this is any different than
what @summary does today?  And if there is no real difference, then why
must we abandon one for the other? Or have one generate a warning message,
and the other none? Now it seems that your argument against @summary is
religious, with zero grounding in practical functionality.

As to why we should *keep* @summary as a completely valid attribute in
HTML5? Answer: the attribute is referenced
(http://www.w3.org/TR/WCAG20-TECHS/H73.html) as a method of ensuring more
accessible data tables in WCAG2 (now officially translated to 2
non-english languages, with many more in their final stages), as well as
required in other Standards and Guidelines (such as the one Denis
referenced in Quebec, SGQRI 008-01 -
http://www.msg.gouv.qc.ca/normalisation/standards/accessibilite/siteweb/in
dex.html &
http://www.msg.gouv.qc.ca/normalisation/standards/accessibilite/siteweb/sp
ecifications.html#tableau)

>
> The obvious counter question is: What guarantee do we have that we
> will be more successful in getting people to use @summary more in the
> future, than we have been in the past 10 years?

International education, using existing and emergent guidance such as
WCAG2 and translated Success Criteria techniques. Emergent laws and
standards that insist on the presence of @summary within data tables.
Better authored training manuals and curriculums. (Much of the same
training vehicles that will be rolled out to teach authors how to do
<video> correctly, or <canvas>, or Microdata, or <take your pick>. Maybe
Marc Pilgrim can dive into using @summary correctly...)

>
> The amount of success @summary has seen in the past 10 years does not
> IMHO speak for a "stay the course" strategy.

Nor does it suggest that we choose to sink the ship...

JF
Received on Wednesday, 6 January 2010 01:07:14 UTC

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