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Re: summary attribute required? history.

From: Leonard R. Kasday <kasday@acm.org>
Date: Mon, 05 Mar 2001 10:41:24 -0500
Message-Id: <>
To: Al Gilman <asgilman@iamdigex.net>, love26@gorge.net (William Loughborough)
Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
Al wrote:
The argument against requiring a value of the SUMMARY attribute per se for all
tables is that the SUMMARY is supplementary to the caption element or TITLE
attribute for the table.

However, WCAG 1.0 says

5.5 Provide summaries for tables. [Priority 3] For example, in HTML, use 
the "summary" attribute of the TABLE element. Techniques for checkpoint 5.5

That seems to say that summary is required.

Personally, I'd agree with Al that summary isn't always needed.  There's 
the case Al mentioned where  title and caption might suffice.  There's also 
another case: where the text of the document happens to describe the 
table.  In other words, I see summary like a longdesc: a longer explanation 
that isn't always needed.

Anyway, the next time I'm rating a page for triple A, do I need to require 
summary?  I'd look to the folks doing HTML techniques to answer this for 
2.0... we can then issue an errata against 1.0 if necessary.

In the meantime, I'm going to have to go by what I see as the plain meaning 
of the words and require a summary for triple A compliance even in cases 
where I have say that it isn't really necessary.  I hope this gets resolved 
before I run across this in a real case.


At 12:14 AM 3/1/01 -0500, Al Gilman wrote:
>At 03:46 PM 2001-02-28 -0800, you wrote:
> >I found this in the archives and am curious as to why people were opposed
> >to requiring "summary" attribute with tables? Also I wonder what the "HC"
> >group is/was?
> >
> >ASG:: FWIW you can track this starting at
> ><http://lists.w3.org/Archives/Public/w3c-wai-hc/1997OctDec/thread.html#sta
> >So far of the three HC participants we have heard from there are three
> >'no' indications on the required? question.  Makes consensus the other
> >way unlikely... On the other hand it would be good to implement his other
> >suggestion
> >and put in a non-trivial 'summary' value in the example tables. -- Al
> >
> >
> >--
> >Love.
> >
>HC was a group to do an accessibility review of HTML 4.0 and CSS 2.0 as they
>were approaching W3C Recommendation status.  You can find a summary of the
>results before we re-treaded the group with a more long-term charter as PF at
>The argument against requiring a value of the SUMMARY attribute per se for all
>tables is that the SUMMARY is supplementary to the caption element or TITLE
>attribute for the table.  See the discussion of CAPTION, not SUMMARY in HTML
>4.01.  In other words, the caption or title may suffice, you don't always need
>an expansion on these in a SUMMARY attribute.  That is the theory as I
>understand it.

Leonard R. Kasday, Ph.D.
Institute on Disabilities/UAP and Dept. of Electrical Engineering at Temple 
(215) 204-2247 (voice)                 (800) 750-7428 (TTY)
http://astro.temple.edu/~kasday         mailto:kasday@acm.org

Chair, W3C Web Accessibility Initiative Evaluation and Repair Tools Group

The WAVE web page accessibility evaluation assistant: 
Received on Monday, 5 March 2001 10:41:08 UTC

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