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guidelines affecting tables

From: Al Gilman <asgilman@access.digex.net>
Date: Sat, 18 Apr 1998 15:18:35 -0400 (EDT)
Message-Id: <199804181918.PAA28137@access5.digex.net>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
> Commenting on http://www.w3.org/WAI/GL/WD-WAI-PAGEAUTH-0414.html
> 5. Tables

I think we need a disclaimer at the head of this section.  The
new things we have in HTML 4.0 are helpful, but they are not all
implemented in the field.  The current state of the answer we can
give in this area is not everything we would like it to be.

The techniques presently discussed in this section are more "New"
than we have said.

For example:

>     1. [Required]
>          Associate table cells with row and column labels explicitly.
>        Future browsers and assistive technologies will be able to
>        automatically translate tables into linear sequences if tables are
>        labeled appropriately. [New] One way of labeling cells is with the
>        "headers" and "scope" attributes. Please refer to the first two
>        table examples in the [68]appendix.

Aren't all explicit cell-to-cell references, and even the column
declaration structures, new?

It is quite natural for people to open a volume like this and
expect it to give them _the_ answer.  Given what we know about
the cost and non-universality of any table techniques we can
describe, we need to lower people's expectations at the outset on
this topic.  Tables are going to require further work and we
should not delay the release of this document until we are
"finally done" with this one.

People should be warned that with the current state of development
of web technology, they may need to resort to:

	- get help from people who depend on assistive technology
	to evaluate your specific design

	- offer an alternative presentation using list structures.

It is not guaranteed that they will need an alternative page,
etc.  but the situation is still muddy in this area and we should
be quick to make that clear.

This could be handled in the document by

	- a warning paragraph ahead of the first guideline.

	- a link to the testing tips section incorporated in that

	- a link to "when all else fails" incorporated in that 

	- add a "get people who depend on assistive technology
	to double-check your design" item in the testing tips

Received on Saturday, 18 April 1998 15:18:40 UTC

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