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RE: [#248] Data and layout tables: identifying and marking

From: John M Slatin <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Date: Fri, 30 May 2003 09:20:34 -0500
Message-ID: <B3DC65CD2AA7EF449E554548C6FE1111135647@MAIL01.austin.utexas.edu>
To: "Chris Ridpath" <chris.ridpath@utoronto.ca>, "WAI WCAG List" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>

I feel very strongly that the summary attribute should be required only
for data tables, and that it should *not* be used at all (or should be
set to null) for all layout tables, including the first one.

Screen readers indicate the presence of tables.  JAWS does so by
default, reporting both the table size ("table with 2 columns and 22
rows," for example) and the summary if present.  If the summary
attribute contains a phrase like "table used for layout only" (pretty
common) or "layout table," the JAWS user hears" "Table with 2 columns
and 22 rows. Summary colon table used for layout only." (I wrote out the
word "colon" because JAWS speaks it.)  To me, this is much like what
happens when someone uses the ALT attribute on a spacer image to say
that it's a spacer.   It's not meaningful information! And, worse than
that, it's extra noise (quite literally) that users have to listen to
and have to process.

If the page layout is so complex that it requires explanation, just
adding a summary that says "layout table" ain't gonna help.


John Slatin, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Technology & Learning
University of Texas at Austin
FAC 248C
1 University Station G9600
Austin, TX 78712
ph 512-495-4288, f 512-495-4524
email jslatin@mail.utexas.edu
web http://www.ital.utexas.edu

-----Original Message-----
From: Chris Ridpath [mailto:chris.ridpath@utoronto.ca] 
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2003 8:54 am
Subject: [#248] Data and layout tables: identifying and marking

Action item from our call yesterday - Here's a summary of my proposals
and questions regarding this bug/concern:

- add a statement that tables be used for entirely data or layout and
not mixed
- describe conditions under which layout tables may be used instead of
style sheets
- only the first layout table requires a summary. Following layout
tables have a summary of "layout table" or NULL ("").
- layout tables should have short summaries (less than 150 characters
- remove the statement "Until user agents render side-by-side text
correctly, provide a linear text equivalent...".
- add a statement that TH, TBODY, THEAD should not be used at all in
layout tables
- add a statement that CAPTION should not be used in layout tables.
- add a statement to discourage the use of TITLE from layout tables. Use
the summary instead.
- add a statement to discourage the use of headers, scope and access in
layout tables

- Is it realistic that style sheets be used instead of layout tables?
- Is it wrong to use HTML color attributes in tables? Should we remove
the statement about using CSS instead of HTML code to style table cells?
- Is linearizing a table still a problem? How do we test for "makes
- "...developers may minimize the risk of word wrapping by limiting the
amount of text in each cell" Is this still a good suggestion?
- do COLSPAN and ROWSPAN need a mention on their use in layout tables

Received on Friday, 30 May 2003 10:20:35 UTC

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