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Proposed change to checkpoint 5.3

From: Ian Jacobs <ij@w3.org>
Date: Tue, 13 Apr 1999 22:54:53 -0400
Message-ID: <3714037D.8D583F7E@w3.org>
To: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org

In the Proposed Recommendation, checkpoint 5.3
(priority 2) reads "Avoid using tables for layout."

During the teleconference today, we discussed this
enigmatic checkpoint and its priority. The discussion
began as I recounted how, when analyzing the accessibility
of the W3C home page, I (and some other W3C Team members)
felt as though the page was still accessible despite featuring
a layout table. The W3C home page is designed so that it
still makes sense when table markup is ignored (e.g., by Lynx).

Checkpoint 5.3 as written today means that if you use 
any table for layout, your page or site cannot conform 
to the Double-A level. And yet, the W3C home page does 
not seem like it poses significant barriers to accessibility.

I would like to propose the following rewrite of the checkpoint:

5.3: Design all layout tables so that the content
     is presented logically when the table is linearized. 
     Priority 1.

This checkpoint then resembles checkpoint 6.1, which reads:

     6.1 Organize content logically using appropriate 
         structural markup so the organization remains clear
         even when associated style sheets are turned off 
         or are not supported. 

Linearization will be discussed in the techniques.

Some will argue that using a table for layout is a misuse
of markup and I agree with them. We must emphasize style sheets
as the right way to lay out pages. This proposal will not
please purists, who have strong arguments for ensuring
that tables be used only for tabular data. Jason White has
successfully argued that BLOCKQUOTE not be used to
indent text as this misuse confuses some tools. The same
reasoning could be applied in this case, and that would be
a strong argument for keeping the current checkpoint

However, if there are ways to use tables that 
"transform gracefully" (and that obey other checkpoints)
AND if readily available technologies can linearize those tables 
(as Lynx does), then please consider this proposal.

Thank you,

 - Ian

[1] http://www.w3.org/TR/1999/WAI-WEBCONTENT-19990324 
Ian Jacobs (jacobs@w3.org) 
Tel/Fax: (212) 684-1814 
Received on Tuesday, 13 April 1999 22:53:24 UTC

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