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RE: Can we really deprecate tables?

From: Dobson, James <JDobson@rnib.org.uk>
Date: Tue, 11 Aug 1998 09:21:00 +0100
Message-ID: <F1ACF6648AF4D1119994006097AB82E401498C@priory.rnib.org.uk>
To: "'A.Flavell@physics.gla.ac.uk'" <A.Flavell@physics.gla.ac.uk>
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
A development on RNIB's website allows visually impaired user's to specify a
style sheet to access RNIB's webpage in there own font, colour and size etc.
I do realise that CSS does cover more than just this, and browsers can also
change presentational elements. 

As you may well know the term visually impaired covers a lot of eye
impairments, and each person may see slightly more or less. This means that
allowing the user to have as much control over what is displayed is very

We have all seen the different ways Netscape and Internet Explorer handle
CSS. I was not aware that you can "turn off" CSS in these browsers (tell me
different!!), I have noticed that you can specify a user CSS file in IE but
the RNIB site allows you to do this anyway. If this is a future browser
development then I don't think we can take it for granted until it is in a

When using CSS for structural presentation, if a browser ignores the CSS
information it will display it all as one piece of information after
another. If the HTML file was not designed properly then you could have
information in locations that are not appropriate. This would be down to
good design, but surely a browser can be programmed with the ability to
ignore or change table tagging if the user requires it?

Maybe we should have intelligent browsers that can read and adapt pages to
how we would like them displayed.

I hope this answers why I would use CSS for visually impaired (I'll be more
specific this time) users.

James Dobson
WWW Developer

-----Original Message-----
From: Alan J. Flavell [mailto:flavell@a5.ph.gla.ac.uk]
Sent: 10 August 1998 18:31
To: Dobson, James
Cc: WAI Guidelines List
Subject: RE: Can we really deprecate tables? 

On Mon, 10 Aug 1998, Dobson, James wrote:

> Personally I would like to see an intermediary step to using CSS that
> that tables like above this are acceptable, until a (large) majority of
> disabled users are using browsers that cope with the CSS specification
> fully. 

Excuse me, but I find this remark really baffling.

Please, why would disabled users have a particular need of a
CSS-capable browser in order to access the content of such a page?  I
was under the impression that the major motivation for using CSS
rather than TABLEs to achieve layout was so that the layout _didn't_
get in the way when people needed to access the content in an unusual
way.  And that can refer to unusual browsing situations (a car driver
listening to a web page, for example, or when using a tiny
palmtop/cellphone browser) just as much as it can refer to - in this
instance - visually impaired readers.

In other words, the CSS can provide optional presentational
enhancements - for those browsing situations where it's a benefit, but
when push comes to shove, the CSS can be turned off and the content is
still all there, in a logical arrangement.

Whereas, browsing pages that use TABLEs for layout can end up
displaying apparently random segments of taxt scattered around in no
obvious order, when the browsing situation is inappropriate.  Surely
we've all met such pages at one time or another? 

In short, I thought that the reason that people wanted to delay using
CSS was the current lack of widespread availability of CSS to the
_mainstream_ browsing situations - those situations where doing layout
with TABLEs is currently giving quite a good impression of working, in
fact. So I found your answer really very surprising, and I would like
to understand better the reason for it.

best regards
Received on Tuesday, 11 August 1998 04:24:49 UTC

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