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Re: Tables - my thoughts

From: Jon Gunderson <jongund@staff.uiuc.edu>
Date: Thu, 23 Jul 1998 09:42:19 -0500
Message-Id: <199807231442.JAA04228@staff1.cso.uiuc.edu>
To: nir dagan <dagan@upf.es>
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
I agree that HTML should be used as the HTML architects intended to
separate content from presentation.  WAI should do all it can to support
the efforts to educate authors, user agent developers and authoring tols to
support this concept.  The separation of content from presentation is not
done in practice by most HTML authors and probably will not become part of
practice for a long time.  Most HTML authors really do not understand the
principle or even very much about HTML, and look at HTML as a presentation
language.  Most authors will use what ever HTML tags work to make the pages
look how they want people to see them.

The choice of WAI is to stand fast and say this is wrong and that authors
should do it the "right" way.  Which means there will probably be low
compliance, at least for a long time until other pressures or technologies
push authors in that direction.

One other choice is to work with how people actual use HTML and try to
provide information that can be used by user agents and authoring tools to
improve access to information by persons with disabilities.


At 12:30 PM 7/23/98 +0200, nir dagan wrote:
>Jon wrote:
>> Has there been any discussions of labeling tables for their purpose?
>>  For example indicating a table is for column formatting or for data. A
>> crude way would be to use the "class" attribute with "wai-column" or
>> "wai-data".  A user agent could then make some assumptions about
>> presentation of the table information. 
>In my view there is a certain balance of what user 
>agents should do and what authors should do. W3C recommendations
>allow authors to write informative accessible tabular information
>using HTML4.0 tables, and arrange text-blocks side by side using CSS2.
>Authors should write using these recommendations (both of which degrade 
>gracefully to HTML3.2 browsers that do not support stylesheets) 
>and user agents should support these recommendations.
>When an author is using a table for layout justifying it by misusing 
>the term "backward compatibility",  he is violating the 
>first principle of HTML writing of separation of meaning
>from presentation. An author who hacks in this way may counter-
>hack in his *author's* aural stylesheet to get his layout-tables 
>to be converted to normal blocks by converting TABLE, TBODY, TR, TD 
>into DIV via CSS2 display properties.
>One should keep in mind though that HTML browsers who support CSS2 may 
>ignore (according to the CSS2 spec.) the display property. Also the CSS2
>recommends to HTML authors not to use the display properties, as the HTML
>elements have commonly agreed meanings. 
>In other words, it is better not to hack, than to hack and then 
>counter-hack, hoping that the so called disabled user have the latest 
>XML-CSS2 browser.
>Nir Dagan.
Jon Gunderson, Ph.D., ATP
Coordinator of Assistive Communication and Information Technology
Division of Rehabilitation - Education Services
University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign
1207 S. Oak Street
Champaign, IL 61820

Voice: 217-244-5870
Fax: 217-333-0248
E-mail: jongund@uiuc.edu
WWW:	http://www.staff.uiuc.edu/~jongund
Received on Thursday, 23 July 1998 10:43:26 UTC

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