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Re: Generalising guidelines (was RE: Murky ratings

From: Daniel Dardailler <danield@w3.org>
Date: Wed, 06 May 1998 11:18:00 +0200
Message-Id: <199805060918.LAA10684@www47.inria.fr>
To: WAI Markup Guidelines <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

Jason wrote:
> I remain convinced that the prohibition against the abuse of tables for
> columnar layout purposes should remain, as a required (or paramount) item
> in the guidelines.
Let me try to explain the situation as I understand it, and then give
my opinion.

If a TABLE columnar layout is used, and done in such a way that
ignoring the TABLE markup (like Lynx does today) leads to a logical
reading order that makes sense (like the W3C home page today), then
there is no problem except in one case.

This is the case where a dumb (i.e. markup unaware) screen reader is
used, reading the output of graphical browsers (NS/IE) that present
the TABLE data in columns while the screen reader reads it line by

The ideal solution to this one case is the use of CSS (instead of
TABLE markup) to do column layout, because then, the user can override
the author CSS with its own CSS that change this columnar layout in
something linear and suitable for the dumb screen reader.

Several comments:
  - CSS properties that can replace TABLE markup are not there yet in
    a reliable way, meaning authors will unlikely switch before I'd
    say at least 6 to 9 months.
  - Graphical browser side features that allow for good user override
    of CSS properties are not there yet (IE has some) either.
  - Graphical browser side feature that would linearize the TABLE are
    not there yet but would solve the problem equaly (that's what
    lynx is doing in fact) 
  - A proxy linearizer service would also solve the problem equally,
    at the price of some inconvenience (performance, security), but it
    can be implemented right away (some already exist)

Overall, I think it's not worth making this item a Required/Paramount.

I would hope most people will switch away from this one combination
(dump screen reader/ graphical browser) in the coming months, but if
not, I would push for a solution in the graphical browser (UA
guideline can handle) and in a temporary proxy linearizer.
Received on Wednesday, 6 May 1998 05:18:05 UTC

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