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Re: [#293] Summary for tables

From: Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>
Date: Fri, 6 Jun 2003 16:45:31 -0700
Cc: "Michael Cooper" <michaelc@watchfire.com>, "WAI GL (E-mail)" <w3c-wai-gl@w3.org>
To: "John M Slatin" <john_slatin@austin.utexas.edu>
Message-Id: <F599331E-9878-11D7-8C08-000393D9E692@idyllmtn.com>


On Friday, June 6, 2003, at 02:38 PM, John M Slatin wrote:
> Rationale
> 1. Simplicity: it is easier for developers to remember that they have 
> to
> provide a summary attribute if they have to do it for every table.
> (Authoring tools can eventually be considerable help here...)
> 2. Consistency: as I've said previously, I think of the summary as "alt
> text for tables."  Since HTML requires an alt attribute for every <img>
> element, consistency would require a summary attribute for every 
> <table>
> element.  Screen readers have already begun to support the null 
> summary.
> 3. Testability.  If the summary is a required attribute, testing tools
> can easily be set to look for it; empty summary attributes for tables
> that otherwise satisfy the tool's heuristics for identifying data 
> tables
> could then be flagged for user check, etc.

This is a good rationale, but note that nearly all tables currently in 
existence
will fail, and the HTML specification does not require a summary attr, 
although
it does require an alt attr.

Perhaps this suggestion should be submitted to the (X)HTML working group
for XHTML 2.0?

I think it's a good answer, but support will take a long time.  Also, 
we need
guidelines as to what "summary" should include.  In my opinion, it 
should be
a statement of "what you'd learn from this, in the form of what you'd 
read over
the phone to your friend who doesn't want specific details."  In other 
words,
something like summary="Republican Presidents have created the largest
deficits" or the like.  (Assuming a table that shows presidents, that 
president's
party, and budget deficits, per year.)

--Kynn

--
Kynn Bartlett <kynn@idyllmtn.com>                     http://kynn.com
Chief Technologist, Idyll Mountain                http://idyllmtn.com
Author, CSS in 24 Hours                       http://cssin24hours.com
Inland Anti-Empire Blog                      http://blog.kynn.com/iae
Shock & Awe Blog                           http://blog.kynn.com/shock
Received on Friday, 6 June 2003 19:40:34 GMT

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