W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > w3c-wai-gl@w3.org > January to March 2001

RE: summary attribute required? history.

From: Mike Paciello <paciello@ma.ultranet.com>
Date: Mon, 5 Mar 2001 11:55:38 -0500
To: "Leonard R. Kasday" <kasday@acm.org>, "Al Gilman" <asgilman@iamdigex.net>, "William Loughborough" <love26@gorge.net>
Cc: <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
Message-ID: <LPBBLAFOCBGBPOEHHLNGEELEDPAA.paciello@ma.ultranet.com>
I would agree with Len's position on this. We have been having a similiar
discussion about SUMMARY on another listserv. I noted that Tidy will always
prompt for the SUMMARY attribute if it's missing in a table. I believe this
is based on the WCAG requirement Len notes below as well as the HTML 4.01.
specification verbiage. I've contacted Dave Raggett to be sure.

SUMMARY is an #IMPLIED attribute to Table -- therefore not mandatory to the
DTD. But the SUMMARY definition within the W3C HTML recommendation certainly
suggests that it is mandatory. I think the verbiage just needs to be
re-cast. In another area, the word "may" is used -- indicating that it's not

This is also why I am trying to get a clear definition between the
distinction of the HTML "transitional" and "strict" requirements. By strict,
do we mean that all attributes are included, even if the attrbute is left

  -----Original Message-----
  From: w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org [mailto:w3c-wai-gl-request@w3.org]On
Behalf Of Leonard R. Kasday
  Sent: Monday, March 05, 2001 10:41 AM
  To: Al Gilman; William Loughborough
  Cc: w3c-wai-gl@w3.org
  Subject: Re: summary attribute required? history.

  Al wrote:
  The argument against requiring a value of the SUMMARY attribute per se for
  tables is that the SUMMARY is supplementary to the caption element or
  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
    >to requiring "summary" attribute with tables? Also I wonder what the
    >group is/was?
    >ASG:: FWIW you can track this starting at


    >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
    >and put in a non-trivial 'summary' value in the example tables. -- Al

    HC was a group to do an accessibility review of HTML 4.0 and CSS 2.0 as
    were approaching W3C Recommendation status.  You can find a summary of
    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
    attribute for the table.  See the discussion of CAPTION, not SUMMARY in
    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 University
  (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 11:54:08 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.1 : Tuesday, 16 January 2018 15:33:36 UTC